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The Daily Wildcat


UA and ASU rivalry entrenched in Arizona history


File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

Jennifer Beebe, damage restoration contractor, uses a high pressure hot water system to remove graffiti on the bronze Arizona Wildcat Family sculpture on the UA Mall during last season’s UA vs. ASU rivalry week. Both schools participate in pranks each year.

The UA will face Arizona State University on Friday for the coveted Territorial Cup, part of an ongoing, heated rivalry between the two schools.

The schools are known for their conflict in terms of sports, but the history of the feud stretches further than just athletics.
Shane Dale, author of the book “Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert,” told the State Press that the roots of the rivalry go beyond our battling teams.

“The history behind it … makes it so personal,” Dale said.

He added that when ASU — known in the 1950s as Arizona State College — was trying to be recognized as a university, the UA protested.

“UA was the only university in the state for decades, and they wanted to keep it that way,” Dale said, “and what happened is that in 1958, there was a proposition on the ballot, Proposition 200, that would change ASC’s name to ASU.”

He said that on the day of the first game at Sun Devil Stadium, UA fans broke in and burned “No on 200” into the grass.

“Based on the interviews I did, that really started making it a personal rivalry,” Dale said. “Proposition 200 passed easily, and ASU went to Tucson that year and blew out UA 47-0. There were some other things that came up as well, but that really set the nastiness of the rivalry since then.”

However, the Territorial Cup Series website claims that the football rivalry dates back 100 years ago, before the emergence of Proposition 200. The website claims that in 1885 when the UA was founded as the state’s first university, the Tempe Normal School also opened. The Tempe Normal School later became what is now known as ASU.

“The Arizona Territorial Normal School football team was the first to claim the original Territorial Cup for winning the Arizona Territorial Football League Championship after a season of three games in 1899,” the website states. “The Normals, as they were known at the time, were undefeated in gridiron matches with the Phoenix Union High School (6-0), the Phoenix Indian School (6-0) and the University of Arizona (11-2).”

Emily Hassard, a communication junior, said she is excited for the game, especially since her family is a house divided.

“My cousin goes to ASU, so my family is definitely a house divided, and the rivalry runs deep,” Hassard said. “I think every school needs to have a rival. It keeps up our school spirit and gets many people involved with our sports. We have an unreal amount of student spirit.”

Issac Ortega, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona president, said that although he didn’t know much regarding the history of the rivalry, he understood that the Territorial Cup was at stake.

“From what I know, the trophy that hangs in the balance — [the] Territorial Cup — is the oldest trophy of any rivalry across the nation,”

Ortega said. “It’s been going on for a long time.”

Ortega added that he anticipates Friday’s game.

“I can’t wait to see the Wildcats get that win on Friday and compete for possibly a Pac-12 [Conference] championship,” Ortega said.

The UA has been doing an amazing job all year, Ortega added, and the school’s athletics are just another demonstration of that.

“That goes for everything. We’ve been striving very well, and we’re just pushing the envelope. Athletics is just another facet of that, and it really shows just how far UA is going.”


Follow Ariella Noth on Twitter.

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