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Opinion: ASU's football performance is disappointing fans

ASU's loss to Fresno is one of many that has soured Sun Devil fans' faith, and ASU needs a better team to revive it

A lone fan sits in an empty section in the rain during a game against Southern Utah at Mountain America Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Tempe. ASU won 24-21.

There’s a problem with how ASU is handling its football department. 

While the University has made an effort to improve fan engagement off the field, the actual performance of the team has left fans with little reason to stick around Mountain America Stadium.

Last Saturday’s game saw a historically severe loss to Fresno State. This 29-0 result marks the first time since 1988 that the Sun Devils been shutout at home, and the student section was nearly vacant by the end of halftime. 

“In order to win in college football, you need everybody behind you," Coach Kenny Dillingham said on Monday during the postgame press conference. "We need people to stay behind us, stay behind our players, and stay behind the process that it takes to be successful."

This game performance comes amid an NCAA investigation into the University's alleged recruiting violations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, ASU decided a self-imposed bowl ban would soften the inevitable blow from the results of the NCAA investigation.

After the disappointing loss, fans took their frustrations about ASU's disappointing defeat to X (formerly known as Twitter). 

ASU alumnus Jeffrey Krieg similarly expressed frustration as a long-time Sun Devil football fan and season ticket holder. Krieg described how he set up an 80-inch TV with surround sound in his garage to watch games from the comfort of his home because of his lack of motivation to come to the game in Tempe.

"We’re not only supposed to beat them [Fresno State], but we’re supposed to blow them out," he said. “I didn’t watch the entire game because I was just disgusted."

For fans like Krieg, this waning enthusiasm for ASU football deters them from even attending games in person. From 2019 to 2022, the total attendance decreased by 14%, from 49,166 to 43,081, about a tenth of the stadium capacity. The attendance dip coincides with a worsening record since 2021, with the team finishing 8-5 in 2021, 3-9 in 2022, and starting the 2023 season at 1-2. 

The University tries to engage football fans with a variety of tailgating events, offering 10 parking lots that open five hours before the game and even upgrading concession prices in August. But fans are still not showing up, and those who do head for the exits early.

However, no matter how good or disappointing the team is, tailgating and going to the game in the desert heat is difficult. It was close to or over 100 degrees at the Southern Utah, Oklahoma State and Fresno State games. Fans still have been few reasons to stick around for a losing team in that heat. Thus, ASU can't rely on these off-field engagement efforts to keep the Sun Devil football spirit alive. 

Until the Sun Devils can improve their performance, nothing in ASU’s playbook can cure growing fan apathy as the losses continue to pile up.

Edited by Mia Osmonbekov, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

Reach the columnists at and, and follow @jcsander23 on X.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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