Arizona State University's athletic department is keeping a secret, and it's creating a whole lot of buzz among Sun Devil faithful.
People inside ASU athletics wouldn't budge on divulging the secret to New Times, but we're told the secret is a "total overhaul" of ASU's athletic branding -- especially for the football team.
The university says the official announcement won't be made until April 12, but an e-mail sent to donors of ASU athletics booster, the Sun Devil Club, says the secret will be announced a few days early on April 9.
"For only $25 you are invited to the unveiling of the work ASU and Nike have developed over the past 9 months to ensure Sun Devil Athletics is represented as an elite, 21st century brand," the e-mail says.
Since Nike's in on it, the new threads ASU football is going to start donning probably will be elaborate (think of the University of Oregon's 1,280 Nike-designed uniform combinations).
There are a lot of ideas to glean from the rumor mill surrounding the announcement, but it looks like Sparky -- the ASU logo designed by Disney illustrator Bert Anthony in 1955 -- is getting a makeover.
A student employee at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena says all of the images of Sparky have been removed around the place, and another student says the university's bookstore is "cleaning house" with a seemingly random sale of ASU-themed garb, a lot of which depicts Sparky.
Then there's the tweet out of left field from ASU's PR flack today, linking to a slideshow of the different looks Sparky has had since his inception.
No one we spoke to has seen an image of the new Sparky, but here at New Times we're hoping they're going to shave his mustache and get rid of that goofy smile.
The other credible rumor is that a pitchfork will replace Sparky on ASU's football helmets.
ASU Athletics has been posting some ominous YouTube videos to build up hype for the announcement, including this one, which includes a montage of clips from ASU football and around the university, ending with a shadow of a pitchfork in smoke, saying, "It's time. April 2011."
Other unsubstantiated gossip includes the entrance of black into the football uniforms, a new home stadium, or a name change to "THE Arizona State University" to mirror "The Ohio State University."
New Times tried to get ASU associate athletic director Mark Brand to confirm some of the rumors, but he was having none of it.
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"I can't elaborate," he says. "There are a lot of rumors out there, and most of them are not true."
At least it's something to get excited about for Sun Devil football -- if the news that quarterback Steven Threet (who completed 16 passes to the wrong team last season) called it quits from football this spring didn't excite you enough.
Now the Sun Devils are going for a new look, a new starting quarterback in Brock Osweiler, and a chance at the new Pac-12 championship game.
Or maybe it's back to that Dennis Erickson mediocrity, in which ASU has posted one winning season since the grizzled coach took the reins in 2007.