The Arizona Republic is polling the best ASU/UA sports teams in the Pac-10 era. Strangely, the UA’s 1997 men’s basketball national championship is leading by double digits over the 1996 ASU football Rose Bowl losers (the team that came within two minutes and one Joe Germaine-led drive of winning the national championship).
Don’t let the homers in Phoenix dominate the voting and put a Tempe Normal team ahead of the 1997 UA team that beat three No. 1 seeds to give Tucson and the Silver Fox its only marquee sport national title.
You can vote in the poll here.
And vote in our duplicate poll below.
Best ASU, UA teams
Bob Young/The Arizona Republic
Which ASU, UA team since 1978 do you believe was the best?
Here’s how long it has been since Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-10:
Students actually slept outside in 1978 to get tickets to ASU’s first basketball season in the conference.
With the conference becoming the Pac-12 soon, someone reminded The Heat Index of a team that might have been the most dominant from either school in any sport during the Pac-10 era.
In 1995, ASU’s women’s golf team – counting all the teams they beat in winning every tournament they entered – finished with a 144-0-1 record and a third consecutive NCAA title.
ASU’s Kristel Mourgue d’Algue won the individual title, Wendy Ward was runner-up, and they were joined by Kellee Booth and Heather Bowie as first-team All-Americans.
Now, that’s hard to beat. But here’s our Pick-10 of the best UA and ASU teams since 1978 listed chronologically. Which do you believe was the best?
1981 ASU baseball
Team rolls to NCAA title, finishes 50-12 overall
Jim Brock’s Sun Devils won the Pac-10 championship with a 26-4 conference record, then swept through the College World Series bracket with a 5-0 record to finish 50-12.
ASU defeated Oklahoma State 7-4 for the championship, and outfielder Stan Holmes was named Most Outstanding Player of the CWS.
Key athletes: Holmes, Ricky Nelson, Kevin Dukes, Alvin Davis, Kevin Romine, Donnie Hill.
1986 ASU football
Sun Devils get Rose Bowl victory over Michigan
With the “Home Boys” offensive line of five Arizona high school products paving the way, ASU capped a 10-1-1 season by beating Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl.
Key athletes: Randall McDaniel, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Aaron Cox, Dan Saleaumua, Eric Allen.
1988 ASU wrestling
Team effort propels Sun Devils to national title
Truly a team championship.
Beat powerful Iowa and Iowa State despite having no individual national champions. But ASU wrestlers placed at the nationals in seven of 10 divisions.
Key athletes: Mike Davies, Zeke Jones, Chip Park, Thom Ortiz, Dan St. John, Jim Gressley, Rod Severn.
1990 ASU men’s golf
Mickelson rakes in awards as team wins national title
Led by Phil Mickelson, the Sun Devils won the national championship.
Mickelson won the Pac-10 title and successfully defended his NCAA title. He also won the U.S. Amateur that year.
Key athletes: Mickelson, Per Johansson, Jim Lemon, Scott Frisch.
1995 ASU women’s golf
Team dominates season, wins title by 26 strokes
Really the only question to ask of Linda Vollstedt’s team: How did San Jose State tie it in the regional?
ASU beat the second-place Spartans by 26 strokes in the NCAA Tournament.
Key athletes: Ward, Mourgue d’Algue, Bowie, Booth, Linda Ericsson.
1996 ASU football
Sun Devils come close to national title
Came within a whisker of an unbeaten season and likely national championship, ending Nebraska’s 26-game winning streak with a 19-0 shutout en route to an 11-0 regular season.
But the Sun Devils lost on a late-game drive to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl to finish 11-1.
Key athletes: Jake Plummer, Pat Tillman, Terry Battle, Derrick Rodgers, Keith Poole, Juan Roque, Derek Smith.
1997 UA basketball
Wildcats take down Goliaths on way to national title
Only team to beat three No. 1 seeds in an NCAA Tournament, including Kentucky in the championship game.
Key athletes: Miles Simon, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry.
1998 UA football
Wildcats get Holiday Bowl victory over Huskers
OK, so Arizona’s best team still didn’t go to a Rose Bowl thanks to a home loss to UCLA.
But it capped a 12-1 season by beating Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl and finished fourth in the final Associated Press and USA Today/coaches polls.
Key athletes: Chris McAlister, Keith Smith, Dennis Northcutt.
2001 UA softball
Finch, home-run blasting Wildcats take title
Pitcher Jennie Finch went 32-0 to lead the Wildcats to a 65-4 season capped by a 1-0 victory against a then-62-5 UCLA team in the championship game.
UA also finished with an NCAA-record 126 home runs that season.
Key athletes: Finch, 3B Toni Mascarenas, OF Lauren Bauer and DP Leneah Manuma.
2008 UA women’s
Frank Busch’s team shines, breaks many records
Coach Frank Busch’s team dominated the NCAA championships, winning all five relay events and breaking the NCAA and American records in four of the five.
Lacey Nymeyer and Lara Jackson won individual NCAA titles.
Key athletes: Nymeyer, Jackson, Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler.