10 ARIZONA STATE
Joe Spagnola, the Naples-born quarterback who won 25 of the 28 games he started for Arizona State, is off flinging passes for the minor league Phoenix Blazers and conducting his own Spaghetti Joe radio show, but the Sun Devils of 1971 will still have more than their quota of talented characters from faraway places. Foremost among them is Defensive End Junior Ah You, born in American Samoa, reared in Laie, Hawaii, named first-team All-WAC two straight seasons and the 1971 cover boy of the NCAA Football Guide. A jarring tackle known in Tempe as "the Hawaiian Punch" is Ah You's specialty. Offensive Center Mike Tomco grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, but he moved in with relatives in Washington so he could play better high school football. He is also a two-time all-league pick, playing tackle and center. Then there is Kicker Don Ekstrand from Calgary, Alberta, who was fourth in the nation in scoring by toe last season.
Under Coach Frank Kush, Arizona State usually has at least one running back who inhales yardage, and this year's deep breather is Monroe Eley, who actually comes from the continental U.S.—Nashville, N.C., which is still a long way from the nearest saguaro cactus or refried bean. It must have given Eley a big thrill to outgain the University of North Carolina's Don McCauley in the Peach Bowl last season. The Sun Devils, who have been ignored by bowl committees over the years, won that game 48-26 to finish with an 11-0 record and become the sixth-ranked team in the country. Eley is a junior now and Kush, instead of comparing him with Charley Taylor or Travis Williams, prefers to say that Eley of 1971 is the Devils' best since Eley of '70.
ASU recruiters don't always have to range as far as Hawaii and Carolina to find possible material. California is just over the horizon and 25 squad members are from there. A mere 16 out of 63 claim Arizona as their home state.
There are problems, of course, one of them being finding a replacement for Spagnola. Two-year veteran Grady Hurst, Notre Dame transfer Jim Brady and sophomore Dan White will battle it out. But no problem seems capable of preventing Kush and his team from having another successful season. And a high-scoring one. State has averaged 38 points a game for the last two years and should do as well this time. It has won 17 consecutive games, its record over the last four years is 35-6 and ex-botany major Kush is the second winningest coach (based on 10 years or more) in football with a .767 average. His record for 13 years: 100-30-1.
This year the team will have some extra incentive. There will be a new postseason game, the Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 27 in Sun Devil Stadium, featuring the WAC champion versus a top team from elsewhere in the country. Wherever that team comes from—Pearl Harbor to the Statue of Liberty—there is sure to be some ASU hotshot who grew up nearby.
The most obvious reason for Auburn's renaissance during the past two seasons is the spectacular passing partnership of Quarterback Pat Sullivan and Split End Terry Beasley. When the pair arrived on the varsity in 1969, Auburn had just gone through a dismal patch of five years during which the team lost 23 games and had been forced to choke down five straight defeats at the hands of Alabama. Oh, where were those glorious autumns of the late 1950s when the Tigers had ripped through 24 straight opponents without losing a game?
Auburn fans think those days have returned. Sullivan and Beasley have led Auburn to two 8-2 seasons, two straight over 'Bama and a Gator Bowl victory over Ole Miss. In 1970 Sullivan led the nation in total offense while Beasley caught 52 passes and led in yards gained per catch. Now they are ready for their last fling.
Unfortunately, Auburn's recent success has not been based entirely on Sullivan to Beasley. There will be some problems this fall. Gone from a rushing attack that gained 196 yards per game last year are two key backs. Gone from the passing attack are four receivers who between them caught 96 passes.