By Jesse Wood
Aug. 7, 2012. This offseason, members of the ASU football squad have been in the news more than once for off-the-field incidents – something that Head Coach Jerry Moore addressed, along with airing other “dirty laundry,” this weekend during media day at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Moore spoke about John Rizor, a senior linebacker who was recently kicked off the team after he was charged with simple assault by the Boone Police Department in a middle-of-the-night altercation on the campus of ASU.
“He should have been a leader … If he can’t lead in the community and on campus, we don’t want him leading our team,” Moore said, adding that players should have leadership and accountability qualities.
Moore framed this year’s media day around how the football program has evolved from three-peat champions to a team that last year didn’t when the Southern Conference for the first time in seven years and exited the playoffs in the first round.
He lamented the absence of players with “intangible” qualities like Richie Williams and Trey Elder, who were on the championship teams several years ago.
“We didn’t have that intangible thing like they brought,” Moore said.
He said that the football team disappointed everyone – the community, the school and the players themselves – last year, adding that this year’s squad, which has a “different demeanor,” doesn’t want that to happen again.
“We had people here last year that cared more about themselves than the program,” said Moore. “I wrote personal, handwritten notes to some players’ moms that their scholarships were in jeopardy, and it made no difference.”
Speaking with Randy Jackson of Go ASU, Moore spoke enthusiastically about this year’s team lacking the complacency of last year’s team; being a family like the previous championship teams were; and having “those intangibles that pull a team together.”
“That’s where we are at right now,” Moore said.
ASU held its first practice on Friday, and its second practice followed the media day activities. The season opener against East Carolina University will be held on September 1.
“We waited all summer for (Friday) to get here,” he said. “(Going) back to the winter workouts, we see a different demeanor in our players now. (Friday) was probably one of the best opening days we’ve had.”
He added that this year’s schedule is toughest since he began coaching at ASU in 1989.
“Top to bottom this year, there is not an easy football game on that whole list,” Moore said.
Defensive Coordinator Dale Jones spoke about senior leadership and the “tremendously” talented freshman as keys to a successful program this year.
“The freshman group is as talented as I’ve ever seen. It comes down to them being able to absorb everything we do. I feel good about where the coaches will get them,” Jones said.
“I think what it is really going to come down to is our senior leadership. (Jeremy) Kimbrough, (Troy) Sanders and (Demetrius) McCray — they have done incredible job of leading this defensive team,” Jones said.