The annual Territorial Cup battle between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils is just a few short days away. Both schools are currently in the midst of a culture change with new head coaches, and this first season has been quite successful for both teams.
SB Nation Arizona will be previewing all aspects of the 2012 Territorial Cup. Up first: what has changed with the new coaching regimens? ASU contributor Cody Ulm and UA contributor Scott Coleman weighed in on the question.
Cody Ulm: Although the results aren't exactly eye-popping quite yet, Todd Graham has already done wonders for this program. And for me, there's one stat that tells the whole tale: six of ASU's top-10 least penalized games since 2006 have come under Graham's leadership this season.
Long gone are the uninspired, temperamental Sun Devil teams of Dennis Erickson. Fans are now treated to a disciplined, motivated product on the field every week. And once the talent catches up with that strong mentality, I think maroon and gold nation could be in for a treat.
Graham has already made it clear that he believes it will take two to three years to get his team operating at the speed he desires so it will be interesting to see if he can get the necessary pieces to his high-octane puzzle. Graham and his staff have already won some important Arizona recruiting battles though and a bowl game appearance in his first year should only further ASU's standing in the state.
As for his impact off the field, Graham has done basically every conceivable thing in his power to build excitement in this program. Whether it his weekly radio show appearances or the new traditions he's building such as throwing the game ball in the stands, it's clear he's being proactive in reaching out to the fans and restoring ASU's image.
Of course, all his proactive efforts could instantly be undone if Graham decides to jump ship yet again once all the heads start rolling and some attractive job openings begin popping up around the NCAA. But I truly believe that CTG wants to turn this program into a Pac-12 powerhouse and I think he's done all the necessary moves in the first year to get ASU heading in the right direction.
Scott Coleman: Rich Rodriguez has taken a team full of unexperienced, undersized and out-of-position players, put it into a magic blender and squeezed out seven wins so far. It hasn't always been a pretty ride, but it sure has been a fun one.
The most notable change is on offense. Under Mike Stoops, the promise of a dynamic air-raid offense was never truly fulfilled. Instead of utilizing the talent on the roster, Stoops and the offensive staff refused to go away from wide receiver screens and halfback draws. Under Rodriguez, the school has a 3,000 yard passer (Matt Scott), an 1,000 yard rusher (Ka'Deem Carey) and an 1,000 yard receiver (Austin Hill). That's the first trio in history to accomplish that at UA. That's the balance Arizona has yearned for for years and has finally received under the new staff.
The 3-3-5 defensive scheme is still foreign to most Wildcats, although it's easy to see why it can be so successful when it run by the right personnel. The defense this season has been pretty bad, but once Rodriguez and the defensive staff are able to get their foot in the ground on the recruiting trail, I have little doubt the defense will get back to passable levels.
Perhaps the thing that has changed most in Tucson and with UA supporters everywhere is this: Rodriguez has brought excitement back to Arizona Stadium. There is a legitimate hunger to make our program elite.
This is a town that absolutely loves -- and will continue to love -- their basketball program. While I don't think coach Sean Miller will be taking a backseat to anyone anytime soon, Saturday afternoons are beginning to demand the attention of the Wildcat faithful. I'm not sure we could ever say that when Stoops was in town.