Sun Devils plan Aug. 12-17 stay at Camp Tontozona
MAY 01, 2013 1:53p ET
Arizona State on Wednesday announced the dates for its football team's second trip under coach Todd Graham to fabled preseason training ground Camp Tontozona.
The Sun Devils will train at the retreat near Payson from Aug.12 to Aug. 17, one day longer than last year's stint, with the annual fall scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 17. Graham has previously expressed interest in an even longer stay at Tontozona, but players' summer school schedules make that difficult.
The tradition was revived last season after Graham routinely heard from fans and alumni calling for its return. To fund the necessary upgrades to the mountain property, which had not been used since 2007, Graham and ASU launched the "Return to Camp T" campaign, ultimately raising more than $150,000.
"I've stated many times that I love the traditions of college football," Graham said in a statement Wednesday. "Camp Tontozona for ASU is one of those iconic traditions. I want to take my teams to Camp T because that is where the tradition and the season begins. Coach Frank Kush had a vision and it worked out very well. I want to perpetuate that tradition."
Kush, ASU's coach from 1958 to 1979, helped build Camp Tontozona and first took his team there in 1960. ASU practiced there yearly until the tradition ended under Dennis Erickson with the completion of an indoor practice facility in Tempe.
Weather had been a recurring issue at Camp Tontozona, as rain often scuttled practice plans. Now, a turf field exists nearby in the event the practice field on site is unusable.
While Camp Tontozona lacks reliable cellular service and Internet access, the retreat is meant to help players disconnect from the outside world and bond with each other. Players and coaches alike praised the return last season before going 8-5 and winning ASU's first bowl game since 2005.
Last year's scrimmage at Tontozona drew more than 5,000 fans, and Graham promised then his teams would return yearly.
"This place, like I said, it's like heaven," Graham said. "We've got some things to work out, but as long as I'm the head coach we're going to come here."