TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new head football coach at Sun Devil Stadium on December 14, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez commented on the intensity of the Duel in the Desert during Pac-12 Media Day, and added "if you can't get up for that one, there's something wrong."
Obviously Rodriguez will not seek extra motivation when the Wildcats and Arizona State meet in late November for the Territorial Cup, but he may have some bulletin board material.
Credit Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter for publicizing this tidbit, the official release announcing kick off of the Sun Devils' pre-season camp gives Graham some lofty credit for his time at West Virginia. The specific quote:
In his second season at West Virginia, Graham improved the Mountaineers record from 3-8 to 9-4.
Graham spent two seasons at WVU (2001 & 2002), one as linebackers coach and the second as co-defensive coordinator. The Mountaineers' head coach? Rich Rodriguez.
The Mountaineer defense did shave a point per game from its average yield in 2002, finishing No. 40 in the nation. Then again, an improvement of nearly nine points per game on the offensive end from 2001 to 2002 probably contributed to WVU's six-win turnaround.
Odds that this is an initial thumbing of the nose at ASU's rival to the south are pretty low. Coaches' accomplishments are embellished almost universally across university athletic websites. Still, this is a fun first installment into the new chapter of the rivalry.