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Arizona State Sun Devils

A day with Ray

In this May 1, 2014 photo, Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson speaks in Tempe, Ariz. ASU is at a pivotal juncture for the future with a football stadium renovation and a new athletics district. On a broader scope, college athletics are on the verge of upheaval, with student-athletes trying to unionize and the larger conferences vying for more autonomy. Leading the Sun Devils into this time of change is former NFL executive Ray Anderson, who has no previous experience as an athletic director, but may be the perfect man for the job. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona State football had a closed scrimmage Saturday morning. Coach Todd Graham doesn't mind if I watch the scrimmage as long as I don't say anything about what I see or hear.

Those restrictions do not extend to filling you in on whom I get to talk to while I'm there. I had met Ray Anderson only twice before. We met once at his press conference, and there's no way he could remember one face and name among the sea of people he met that day. The second time was a quick conversation at a luncheon. Despite only two handshakes, he walked by me at practice and said, "Hi, Doug. Good to see you out here."

Obviously a simple greeting, but you have to assume he's done that to a lot of people. I watched him interact with some others. He said, "You guys are welcome back anytime. Let me know if there's anything I can do for you."

Very few people have his level of dignity and professionalism yet bring an inclusive personality to the fold. Anderson does that.

"When you run a disciplined program, of course it helps the good players to become great, but it does a lot more for the undrafted guys. There's going to be times where a team is deciding between two guys to sign. If word gets around that ASU produces hard-working, smart kids, our players will get the benefit of the doubt. I want pro scouts around the program to see what we do."

In the seven-and-a-half years I've lived here, I don't remember an ASU athletic director concerned about giving his football players on the NFL bubble an edge. He talked to me about the intangibles NFL scouts look for when making final decisions. Name an AD in all of college sports who knows more about the NFL than the one running Arizona State athletics. You can't.

So that would let you know he's a football AD. Then I talked to another member of the athletic department who told me about a parent in an Olympic sport who told him the difference for the parent's child between other schools and ASU was the amount of time Anderson spent with the family during recruiting. So he's more than a football AD.

Of course there's going to be a decision Anderson makes that I disagree with, and I'll say it on air or blog about why I thought he was wrong. It was only a few years ago that ASU had one of the worst director of athletics in the Pac-12. Now, it might have one of the best.

About the Author

School: Ohio University...Go Bobcats!

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: 1st Doug & Wolf Show: 1/2/07

Favorite sports memory: Goldschmidt's triple icing the 2011 NL West title because it was a daddy-daughter day at the ballpark and Bellbrook vs. Dunbar '89 when I hit my one varsity HR.

Favorite all-time athlete: as a kid, an adult, Grant Hill

Favorite sports movies: Field of Dreams

Best sports road trip: My Saturday...Braves vs. Reds Sunday Night...Cooperstown Monday through Thursday morning...Jennifer sings the Anthem Thursday night at Fenway... Sox/White Sox triple play and cycle in the same game for only the second time in baseball history...Saturday night Clemens strikes out 9 through 7 but the bullpen blows it and the crowd is furious.

Best game I've ever seen live: Suns/Spurs Game 5 2007 Western Semis (the game w/o Amare & Boris). Hated the outcome but loved the experience.


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