The award is being renamed after the longtime East Valley Tribune sports reporter Bob Moran, who in his long and distinguished career has covered both schools as a beat writer and columnist. Moran has been fighting stomach cancer since the fall of 2004, and covered the big game for a quarter century until his illness.
The MVP will continue to receive the Ben Goo Trophy, "Victory." Members of the media who cover the annual football game have selected the game's outstanding individual since 1999. The trophy previously was awarded from 1979 to 1998 as the game's prize until ASU discovered the original 1899 Territorial Cup in storage.
Arizona State officials initiated the request to rename the MVP prize earlier this month, with concurrence from UA's athletic leadership.
"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," said UA athletics director Jim Livengood.
"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's been fighting a far greater battle for his life, but that exemplifies the spirit of our rivalry,"
"We are proud to make this announcement about the annual Bob Moran Most Valuable Player Award," said ASU Vice President for Athletics, Lisa Love.
"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. Bob1s love of college football and especially this unique rivalry is unparalleled. Bob is all about the student-athlete and naming an award after him that is presented to a deserving student-athlete is appropriate."
Moran, 55, has been named sportswriter of the year seven times for the state of Arizona. He attended Ohio University where he worked for the Ohio University Post (two years) and the African-American Affairs (4 years).
Moran graduated in June of 1974 and started at the Arizona Daily Star in July of that year. He was the backup Arizona football writer that year while also covering junior colleges, and became the main beat writer the following year for Wildcat football. He also covered the Cleveland Indians in spring training.
In 1980, the Star became one of the first papers in the country to open a sports bureau outside its main circulation area when it opened one in Phoenix. Moran moved to Phoenix that year to cover all Valley sports, concentrating on ASU. He was the backup writer for ASU football that first year and then he took over the following year. He joined the Tribune staff in 1986.
"I can't say enough about Bob Moran," said Bob Romantic, Executive Sports Editor of the East Valley Tribune. "Nobody loves the game more than 'Coach' -- he got that nickname because he knows more about college football than just about anybody. Bob is an institution both here in the Valley and in Tucson, so this honor is wholly appropriate. He's been our MVP for a lot of years," Romantic said.
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One of Moran's recurring journalistic themes was to feature mostly cordial meetings between Wilbur the Wildcat and Sparky Sun Devil in periodic columns discussing the state of affairs in both schools' programs.
Typically the two would meet half way between the two schools, at one of the local restaurants along Interstate 10 in Toltec, over glasses of milk or mugs of root beer. Occasionally the two would run into each other in either Tempe or Tucson.
Moran would take shots at both institutions, of course, attributing the smack-talk to the mascots -- the boastful upperhand after a big victory, the promise of same beforehand, jibes at situations within the athletic administrations, you name it.
These simple but effective communicative essays have been missing since Bob's absence from the scene. It was his ploy. Anyone else who tried it likely could not hit the sympathetic nerve that Moran's pieces carried -- a fact due to his work in both environs.]