ASU should remember athletic success

Contrary to last week’s editorial, the 2013-14 year was one of ASU’s better overall athletic seasons.

Some of last year’s accomplishments include:

The ASU basketball team made the tournament for the first time since 2009.

The football team earned double-digit victories for just the third time since 1987 and hosted the Pac-12 title game.

The volleyball team won 19 games and 39 in its past two seasons, which is the most in a two-year stretch for ASU since the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

The five sports specifically cited in the editorial (football, men’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball) all made the postseason.

Only five programs (ASU, Texas, Nebraska, Oregon and Louisville) made a college football bowl game and qualified for the NCAA tournament in those other four sports.

None of these ASU teams produced in the postseason, but those teams, barring baseball, had superb seasons getting there.

No matter the finish, every postseason is construed as disappointing if it doesn’t end in a national title. It’s easy to look at missed opportunities in the playoffs to think a team should have advanced further.

Just this year, the Longhorns sent the ASU basketball team packing on a buzzer-beater shot. One foot separated the ASU softball team from bowing out and advancing past its regional on a walk-off home run.

Instead of reminiscing on these postseason shortcomings, the 2013-14 athletic year should be celebrated, because who knows if that kind of success can be replicated?

There are only three times in ASU history when the football team made a bowl game and the basketball team qualified for NCAA tournament in the same season. It happened this past year, 2002-03 and 1972-73.

In 2014-15, ASU may not fare as well in its marquee sports because of key personnel subtractions.

The football team loses nine defensive starters, including Will Sutton and Carl Bradford. The basketball team departs its primary ball-handler in Jahii Carson and its rim protector in Jordan Bachynski.

The other major point in the editorial was that ASU brands itself as being No. 1 in everything. In the case of sports, there are objective measures to determine who that is (a national title).

Problem is, not everyone can walk away with that trophy. There are 64 schools (excluding Notre Dame) in the Power 5 conferences. In some Division I sports, up to 300 schools all chase the same trophy.

With those odds, it’s not plausible to expect national titles or top-five finishes in anything, even if that’s what ASU President Michael Crow says the goal is.

What else is Crow supposed to say? That ASU wants to be above-average? Of course not.

Goals and objectives are set incredibly high to get the best out of the coaches and athletes.

It’s more realistic to be competitive in everything, which ASU has shown. Perhaps a better metric would be to finish in the top third or top fourth of the Power 5 in the Director’s Cup.

Winning big won’t happen overnight. ASU’s made the first step by winning small now.

 

Reach the columnist at Justin.Janssen@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11