There are many things that I have been proud of in my 30 years in this business, but last night I was beaming with pride as I witnessed a group of young men and women show nothing but class and sportsmanship on our practice field.
The game itself was fun to watch because it was won on the last play of the game (ESPN would have loved to have shown this game live!!!).
It is no real secret in these parts that the two schools that these young men and women represent is a very heated rivalry, and unfortunately, a lot of hatred among its fans, alumni and students. But for an hour or so last night there was nothing but fun, excitement and sportsmanship on display. Not one argument, no mouthing, no disrespect, NOTHING!! But there was a lot of class shown by both squads.
Trust me, later today there is nothing I want more than a victory over ASU. I want it for Coach Stoops, his assistants, our awesome players, the managers, Tim and Benny, my wife, and most importantly, our fans. Why? Because it is ASU. But for me, it has nothing to do with HATE.
I know a lot of Wildcats do not agree with me on this, but I do not have one ounce of hate towards ASU. As a matter of fact, I am PROUD to say that one of my closest friends (like a brother to me) is a Sun Devil and I am proud of him for being a Sun Devil. Paul Lopez is the kind of friend anyone would want. I hope he loses today, but a game between two great schools will not effect my feelings towards him.
His boss, Mark Zimmer, is another good friend of mine. I love being around Zim and I have so much respect for him as a man and as an equipment manager. He is one of the first people I bounce ideas off of. Knowing him and having him as a friend has made me a much better person and equipment manager. How stupid would one be to not allow that to happen just because he works at a rival school?
No doubt I am a different guy (understatement!!!), but going all the way back to my days at Sam Houston State when the SFA Lumberjacks were our hated rivalry, I never held anything against those guys. Their equipment manager, Greg Payne (Buck), is a good friend of mine and I always look forward to seeing him at AEMA. Their head coach, Jim Hess, was a reference on my resume while I was at SHSU.
To me, there is TOO MUCH divisiveness in our world. I just can't allow the game I love so much to be a conduit for hatred!!!
Sorry for the rant. Oh yeah, we won the game, but who really cares?