ASU soccer faces heavy, existential questions getting into 2022 season

August 30, 2022

Irrational exuberance emits from a small slice of ASU alumni. They’re excited as a result of they can’t be disillusioned any extra. They’re free of the concern of failure. They’re relieved from the insufferable burden of expectations.

These are unusual instances in school soccer, and nowhere is stranger than Tempe, Arizona.

The Solar Devils face a collection of heavy, existential questions getting into the 2022 season, which begins Thursday in opposition to NAU at Solar Satan Stadium:

How low can they go? Is it solely up from right here? The place are they stepping into the long term? And can the Sleeping Big ever awaken or was it only a fantasy all alongside?

To wit:

The soccer program is below NCAA investigation. And but the NCAA might stop to exist within the not-so-distant future, perhaps even earlier than investigators get round to interviewing Herm Edwards.

The Pac-12 is hanging by fraying threads of solidarity, and yet one more key defection may ship survivors scrambling for shelter, begging on the doorstep of the Large 12. Would ASU comply with go well with or would it not desire a number one position in a scaled-down, rebuilt Pac-12, identical to the glory days when Frank Kush dominated the Western Athletic Convention?

The ramifications are huge. There have been rumblings of a mutual curiosity between the College of Arizona and the Large 12, which appear to be a pure cultural match on many ranges. However are you able to think about a world with out feuding Solar Devils and Wildcats, the place the Territorial Cup merely ceased to exist, an historical relic buried within the ruins of progress?

Something is feasible within the fractured world of faculty soccer, the place nothing issues however the gold rush destroying the game.

Lastly, there’s the unhappy juxtaposition of a thriving, bustling ASU campus that now boasts a report 140,759 undergraduate and graduate college students enrolled for lessons and a faculty that’s woefully behind within the NIL motion to draw and pay the very best soccer gamers. There may be a lot congestion and development at ASU that driving by means of Tempe is now one of many worst issues about residing in Arizona, rating solely behind rattlesnakes and scorpions. Clearly, ASU has by no means been so worthwhile.

And but its soccer workforce has hardly ever felt this insignificant, irrelevant, underfunded.

Clearly, the NCAA investigation has triggered main turmoil and model injury. One outstanding school soccer author predicts ASU will go 1-8 within the Pac-12. As soon as a media darling, Edwards is now a tragic, shrunken determine driving out the storm.

Possibly Edwards will thrive on this subsequent chapter. Possibly he’ll do higher as head coach of an underdog than he was as CEO of a pro-style operation.

Or perhaps it is a prelude to the tip, a realization that the window has closed and that ASU won’t ever be a significant participant in school soccer. The income disparities between the haves and have-nots will quickly change into untenable, and ASU is ill-prepared on this area, inside a saturated skilled sports activities city, in a market filled with leisure choices and brief on consideration span/discretionary {dollars}.

Below Kush, ASU as soon as posted 5 seasons with 10 or extra victories within the span of six years. They’ve had solely six such seasons since becoming a member of the Pac-10 in 1978, a span of 44 years. Possibly they’re higher solid as Large Fish/Small Pond than they’re Sleeping Big.

Possibly the true subject is the persistent and flawed perception that ASU ought to be a soccer powerhouse primarily based on its climate, campus surroundings and its fascinating location. Possibly the underlying subject has at all times been our expectations.

Thankfully for Edwards, that gained’t be an issue in 2022.

Attain Bickley at [email protected] Hearken to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6–10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports activities Station.

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