With Stanford and Arizona State competing in the Pac-12 football championship game over the weekend, my mind wandered back to my days as an ASU student and college reporter.

With fond memories, I recalled the late Bob Moran, who was a giant – a legend, really – for his one-of-a-kind personality, commitment to his craft and warm personality. He passed away on March 4, 2008, and I was thinking back to the sad news and what I wrote later that day (from Tokyo) in an online guestbook for him.

Here’s it is:

Few people touched as many lives as Bob Moran did. It was his God-given gift to make a good first impression and to make others smile.

Thousands knew him from his witty, thought-provoking, on-the-money stories and columns, first in the Arizona Daily Star and later at The Tribune. Others had the pleasure of meeting him at games, press conferences, practices … or in the newsroom.

He was a kind, intelligent, passionate journalist. He was quick to laugh, quick to offer encouragement, quick to share a story about yesterday or a game he might’ve seen 20 years ago.

As a college student/journalist at Arizona State University from 1996-99, I saw Bob on dozens of occasions at ASU football games and practices and weekly press luncheons. He always said hello; said hello to everyone. Never made it appear that he was a big shot, or wanted you to think he was a big shot. That wasn’t his style.

In fact, it seemed he went out of his way to make us “up-and-comers” feel welcome at the press table in the weekly luncheons or in the press box looking down from high above Sun Devil Stadium, even if we were surrounded by folks from CNN, Sports Illustrated or other big-name media outlets.

He was a man of laughter on those football Saturdays. Never was there a man who appeared to love his job more than Bob. Isn’t that a lesson we all can try to learn? As in this: Do what you love and love what you do.

It was always a learning experience to follow how Bob covered his ASU sports beat. We attended many of the same games, interviewed many of the same players and coaches. So what I wanted to know was this: How he used that information to construct quality story after quality story. It was like a textbook for me day after day, week after week. I hope I learned a thing for two from him that has helped make me a better writer.

I never met a journalist who seemed to enjoy conducting an interview, in person or on the phone, as much as he did. In fact, the interview coming up was always the one he looked forward to the most. And he always had another question to ask, one that couldn’t elicit a simple “yes” or “no” response. He was always prepared, knew what he was talking about, but always wanted to know more. And, boy, did he enjoy learning more!

He was, as has been noted by many, a consummate reporter. And, man, did he have a great memory. A third-and-1 QB scramble from the 1-yard line from one game could stir up memories of 10 similar plays from that season’s college football highlights show or a random season from any of the last 25.

Above all, Bob’s generosity, talent and wonderful personality will be missed.

But we’ll never forget you.

Rest in peace, Bob.