Having to locate a new 2006 season-opening opponent after New Mexico State suddenly backed out of an agreement to play, Arizona State had to make the most of an undesirable situation.
The Sun Devils felt they did that on Tuesday, announcing that Northern Arizona has agreed to be at Sun Devil Stadium for a contest that kicks off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31, a Thursday.
"It could not have worked out better under difficult circumstances," ASU vice president of athletics Lisa Love said. "If you are scrambling at the last minute like we were, it’s a stroke of good luck that NAU was able to work things out that we could get them on our schedule."
NAU, a Division I-AA school, played at ASU in 2003, with the Sun Devils winning 34-14. The Lumberjacks are scheduled to visit Tempe in 2008.
Eight months before kickoff, ASU’s options were limited. Nicholls State, a I-AA school in Louisiana, and Division II Western New Mexico were the only other schools that expressed interest.
With NAU as the opponent, ASU’s payout from the game will stay in the state. Also, the Lumberjacks sold about 6,000 tickets for the ’03 game.
"Any time we have a chance to take on the Division I-A schools in our state, we’re going to jump at it," NAU athletic director Jim Fallis said. "Our kids enjoy that challenge. . . .
"And I always get told by our alumni in the Valley that whenever we can play at ASU, to try and do it. It’s a great opportunity for them to be able to come out and watch us play."
Under the terms of the contract, New Mexico State owes ASU a $300,000 buyout for canceling its visit.
Though the Sun Devils will be playing close to home in next week’s Insight Bowl against Rutgers, they will wear white uniforms and be the designated visiting team.
That is consistent with Fiesta/Insight bowl policy regarding ASU. After wearing home jerseys in their first two Fiesta Bowl games (1971, ’72) at Sun Devil Stadium, ASU wore white in each of its last four appearances (1973, ’75, ’77 and ’83).
Tight end Lance Evbuomwan of Redlands, Calif., orally committed to ASU on Tuesday, becoming the sixth player in the last two weeks to announce that he intends to come to Tempe.
Evbuomwan, a 6-foot-5, 238 pounder, had 54 catches for 739 yards and 13 touchdowns this season at Redlands East Valley High.
Other recent commits are tailback Ryan Torain of Butler County (Kan.) Junior College, linebackers Gerald Munns of Hamilton High and Jeff Bereuter of MacArthur High in Irving, Texas and two defensive backs — cornerback Justin Tryon and safety Troy Nolan — from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif.
Cornerback Keno Walter-White, who has not practiced since the end of the regular season due to a knee injury, will not play in the Insight Bowl. . . .
The Sun Devils are likely not an option for North Carolina State reserve tailback Bobby Washington, who is looking to transfer. Washington’s father said in a report published last week that ASU was one of the schools he was considering.