This feature appeared in Arizona State University’s State Press in the run-up to the 1997 Rose Bowl.

Ex-Sun Devils showing support for 1996 ASU team

By Ed Odeven

The upcoming Rose Bowl gives five ex-Sun Devils a good opportunity to root for their alma mater.

Chicago Bears cornerback Kevin Miniefield, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Shante Carver, New Orleans Saints cornerback Eric Allen, New York Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jason Kyle are proud of ASU’s re-emergence as a college gridiron power.

Carver remains a loyal supporter of ASU.

“I watch every game,” said Carver, a first-round pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. “I wear all my ASU stuff since I’ve been down here. It’s going to be a big scoring game: ASU 34, Ohio State 28.”

Miniefield remains an avid Sun Devil fan.

“I have been following ASU as much as I can,” said Miniefield, who was an eighth-round selection of the Detroit Lions in the 1993 NFL Draft. “It’s going to be a high-scoring affair: ASU 30, Ohio State 27.”

Carver is impressed with the job ASU head coach Bruce Snyder has done turning around the program.

“I believe in Snyder’s program,” he said. “They are taking it to the next level.”

Miniefield is another Snyder believer.

“I think he’s done a great job,” Miniefield said. “A lot of the guys he’s recruited have definitely turned the program toward credibility.”

That elite level, which Carver is accustomed to since joining Dallas, has triggered ASU’s No. 2 ranking.

And Carver is not surprised ASU (11-0) has had a successful season. The team’s strong leadership is a reason for its success, he said.

“Jake Plummer has always proven he’s a winner,” Carver said. “Keith Poole’s a clutch receiver. Shawn Swayda’s a rock. Brent Bernstein’s been causing havoc all year…”

Sparks is also impressed with Snyder’s success.

“I think it’s awesome,” said the Giants’ 1992 second-round pick. “I’ve always told him (Snyder) I wish I had one more year to play because of the type of defense he brings. They are so good, because they believe in themselves.”

Although Sparks declined to make a score prediction, he thinks ASU will be victorious.

“I think ASU’s going to win it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be close. I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout, but I think ASU’s going to win it.”

Sparks said he plans to make a bet with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kent Graham, a former Buckeyes signal caller.

Kyle said he has a Rose Bowl wager with Seahawks teammate Joey Galloway, an ex-Buckeye.

The bet has been “building all year,” Kyle said. “We’ve been talking about it all year. He (Galloway) is still confident they’ll win.”

If ASU loses, Kyle will “need to take out a small loan,” he said, laughing.

Despite ASU’s success, Kyle, a 1994 graduate, is envious of his former college teammates who get to play in the Rose Bowl.

“Yeah, I’m jealous it didn’t happen when I was there,” Kyle said. “But I played with a majority of those guys and I’m happy for them.”

Regardless of the weather, Kyle has plans for Jan. 1.

“I’ll be down there (in Pasadena),” he admitted.

Allen, the 30th overall pick in the 1988 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, relishes ASU’s perfect season.

“It’s a blast,” he said. “Once you leave school and have been in the pros for a while, each Saturday is kind of symbolic. If you play someone’s school with guys from your team, there are always wager bets for breakfast and dinner and things like that from Nebraska and Washington. It’s been a very good year for me.”

Carver’s advice to ASU is simple.

“If they just play hard, they will do all right,” he said. “If they stop the run, it’s all over.”

Miniefield predicts an entertaining game.

“Both of them obviously have explosive offenses,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun game. It’s just a matter of who’s going to be able to stop who.”