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We could not help but notice a theme among ASU athletics this weekend. And we hate to be the ones to point it out, but across the board the Sun Devils are looking shabby.

This is all quite a surprise to us. ASU finished fourth in the 2007-2008 U.S. Sports Academy Director’s Cup, which recognizes the overall excellence of a university’s athletic program.

Last season, the track and field teams won the National Championship. The softball team did too.

The baseball team reached the College World Series.

The women’s basketball team, as usual, came through on the hardcourt while coach Herb Sendek and the men’s team were oh so mighty close to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

There was so much Love for Lisa that people forgot her little bon voyage present to Dirk Koetter. ASU even got some national attention: Sports Illustrated, which uses a distinct ranking system, named ASU as the top university athletic program.

The second half of 2008 has been a different story for ASU sports fans.

We feel about the football team how John McCain feels about Barack Obama. That one has and will continue to disappoint the ASU public.

Spending any time thinking the football team will wake from its four-game sleep streak seems superfluous.

Until now, we could look past the money-making sports to keep our spirits high. After taking a gander at this weekend’s results, though, it could be a tough go for more than just coach Dennis Erickson and company.

Take coach Kevin Boyd’s soccer team. Continuing good play when the Pac-10 Conference schedule opened seemed like a formality. But the Sun Devils didn’t come out with intensity Friday, and they were playing against UA. If you can’t get up for that game, something’s wrong.

On the road, the volleyball team was swept by both Cal and Stanford this weekend. Oh, goody.

The men’s and women’s swim teams hosted alumni in an informal, fun-for-all meet; but we’re sure they lost too.

The one bright spot: Five women’s golfers performed well at an international tournament in Australia. But the event is not connected to NCAA play, so counting it in our favor would be like putting lipstick on the wrong pig.

We’re still months away from that other money-making sport’s return to action. First Team All-American basketball stud James Harden will likely give us football amnesia when mid-November rolls around. Coach Charli Turner Thorne will have her squad ready too.

But let’s face it: We’re all about staying in the present, in the moment. And it all comes back to the players with the pigskin.

Four straight losses on the gridiron is just plain embarrassing. The offense is allergic to the end zone, and the defense can’t perform any better.

It leaves our thirst for athletic prominence unquenched.

So, as that one enjoys its second bye week — which means ASU can’t lose next Saturday — most fans are inching closer to saying, “See ya, season.”

And we can’t blame them.

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