By Mary Kate Lau, SDA Digital Communications Intern
Back in the 70s, the Fiesta Bowl might as well have just been called the Sun Devil Bowl.
ASU played in the inaugural Fiesta Bowl in 1971, and again the next year. And the year after that. They would play in the bowl, then closely associated with the Western Athletic Conference, five times in the decade and win all but the 1977 matchup against Penn State.
At Saturday night’s game against Oregon State, members of the ’73 team gathered on the field, wide grins across their faces as they celebrated the forty-year anniversary of the night they won the Sun Devils’ third straight Fiesta Bowl.
There have been seven U.S. Presidents in and out of office since that night in January, but when you get these guys together, they still talk like a day hasn’t passed.
“Throughout the week, I was a part of the email chain and I got to see the communication between these guys,” Kevin Miniefield, Coordinator of Former Student-Athlete Outreach said. “It’s really neat for me just to see the love they have for one another. It’s so special to see these grown men still have all this affection for each other.”
Most of the guys are still active with the ASU football community in one way or another, including the “Letter Winner’s Club” program, in which current players will reach out to a former player that played their position, and promise to honor it and everything they’ve done.
It helps to bridge the gap between past and present and makes the former student-athletes feel a connection to the team all these years later.
“The former players absolutely love it,” Miniefield said. “It’s very personal, it’s very passionate.”
It all just goes to show how strongly the program believes in honoring the rich history of the program.
“(Head Coach Todd Graham) has been very available for everything that we do to reach out to former players, and the Ring of Honor and just sitting and meeting with these guys,” Minifield said.
Miniefield will have a year off before planning the reunion of the 1975 team that defeated Nebraska 17-14.
In the meantime, former players can still get involved with “Letter Winners” through the Sun Devil Club.