Arizona State football coach Dirk Koetter said the Pac-10's approval of four extra players for road trips will be a boost for special teams.
One immediate dividend is Chad Christensen will resume holding duties for kicker Jessie Ainsworth.
Ainsworth struggled with new holders last spring, but ASU had to change holders because there was no guarantee Christensen, as the probable fourth-team quarterback, would make the travel squad. He will now with travel squads having increased from 60 to 64 for Pac-10 games.
Last season walk-on Steve Bisnett was impressive on special teams, but ASU couldn’t afford to take him because of his limitations.
When team injuries last season allowed him to make the trip to Washington State in November, "He started on the kickoff unit and made two tackles," Koetter noted.
Koetter said he might have "discovered" Bisnett’s contributions earlier in the year had he had the additional roster spots for road trips.
Koetter also said the four extra players will give coaches some leeway when making decisions about injured players. Travel squads are usually decided by Thursday’s practice.
But a player could heal sufficiently enough in the next day-and-half to be able to play.
"It only cost two extra rooms, so cost wasn’t an issue," Koetter said.
BACK AMONG ELITE
While there will be much talk about Arizona’s 18-year College World Series drought, the fact is Arizona is doing what it should be doing.
Only five schools have more than the three national championships Arizona has won, only six schools have more than Arizona’s 32 wins at the College World Series and only six schools have played in Omaha more than the 14 times UA has.
UA has suffered the same problem ASU has, but the Wildcats have had a much harder time than the Devils adjusting to competing without all those quality southern California players it used to get in the 1980s.
The exodus of Roy Williams’ last basketball signees at Kansas has continued with Omar Wilkes departing and landing at California.
A son of former UCLA great Jamal Wilkes, the 6-foot-4 guard from Los Angeles will sit out this coming season and become eligible for the Golden Bears in 2005-2006.
Wilkes averaged only 3.5 minutes in 21 games for the Jayhawks last year.
Fellow freshman Dana Padgett left Kansas and landed at Louisville.
• "I decided to come back to school for another year and pretty much take flight. (I want) to take Husky basketball back to where it needs to be, back up to a winning program like we did last year, but even better. Getting the Pac-10 championship and going to the big dance again to try and win it all."
— Washington guard Nate Robinson pulling himself out of the NBA draft
• Betting money has Washington State’s Dick Bennett not staying long as coach of the Cougars. He learned this year the difference between being the basketball coach of Wisconsin and WSU is about as wide as the distance from Madison to Pullman. One example: no tailor for new suits like he had in Wisconsin. After he got the moribund Cougs in the Pac-10 tournament, that day of his second retirement won’t come soon enough for some league coaches.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Former ASU tight end Bruce Hardy is enrolled in summer school finishing his undergraduate work. Hardy will graduate from ASU in August then return to Florida International University, where he is an assistant coach.
• The Arizona baseball team, which has been on the road seven of the last nine weeks, has logged 9,819 miles in getting to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.