Let me tell you a little bit about Bob Moran. When we traveled down Interstate 10 together to Tucson for the Arizona State-Arizona football game, Bob wouldn't turn on the radio.
He'd play a tape of Billy Cannon's famous punt return that gave Louisiana State a 7-3 win over Mississippi in 1959.
When we were on the road to cover a Pac-10 football game, I'd want to get a nice dinner after the day was done.
Bob would find the nearest McDonald's, grab a hamburger and head back to his hotel room to watch that night's games.
In my 25-plus years in the business, I've never met anyone who loves college football as much as Bob. So it's only appropriate that ASU and Arizona will jointly announce this morning that the MVP of the Territorial Cup game will win the Bob Moran Most Valuable Player Award.
"I'm kind of surprised. Flattered, of course," said Moran, 55, who has been battling stomach cancer since 2004. "This is something I would have never thought of or even fathomed. I'm just a poor country boy from south Louisiana."
It's hard to imagine anyone who has written more words about the ASU-Arizona rivalry than Moran. He started at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson in 1974 and became the main Wildcats beat writer the following year. In 1980, he opened a Star bureau in the Valley (if you can call his home a bureau) and covered all the local sports, including ASU football.
The Tribune was fortunate enough to hire Bob in 1986, and he became our ASU writer the following year until cancer forced him off the job in November of 2004.
How intertwined has Moran been with the rivalry?
Well, he covered every ASU-UA game from 1975 to 2003. And as those who read his Sparky and Wilbur columns will attest, he often knew more about the teams than the players and coaches he covered.
Hence his nickname: Coach.
"Bob has served both the Tempe and Tucson communities over the past 30 years in helping Sun Devil and Wildcat fans follow their favorite teams," ASU athletic director Lisa Love said. "Bob's love of college football and especially this unique rivalry is unparalleled."
Moran, who was named Sportswriter of the Year for the state of Arizona seven times, doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
In his mind, he was just doing his job.
"You show up for work every day, look at the schedule, find out who the Devils are playing or who the UA is playing, and go out and cover the games," he said. "That's all I did. I just wanted to be a sportswriter, and I got lucky. This is where I wanted to be."
Actually, ASU and Arizona were lucky to have a writer cover them that was so passionate about the sport. Most college football fans have their favorite team. Bob has five of them: Clemson, Ohio State, Ohio University (his alma mater), Southern University and LSU.
"It's more than appropriate to name a playing prize in honor of a journalist who covered this rivalry for three decades, from both sides," Arizona athletics director Jim Livengood said. "Some of the enduring things about collegiate athletics are the stories and traditions that come from the competition, and this is another step in the odyssey of the Territorial Cup game."
Bob will shake his head when he reads this story. Sportswriters don't get awards named after them.
But, then, most sportswriters aren't like Bob.