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Heart of the City: Arizona State

We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises.

First up: Arizona State

Location: Tempe, Ariz.

Enrollment: 70,000

Bowl appearances: 20

NFL first-round picks: 20

Losing seasons: 12

10-win seasons: 11

Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: Have you been in Tempe in December? That's a pretty darn good place to start: the weather. Sure, it ain't too pleasant in July, but, hey, school's out.

The Sun Devils have posted several good runs through the years, the best being the Frank Kush Era from 1958-1979. From 1970-75, the Sun Devils under Kush finished ranked in the top-10 four times and 13th another. They finished ranked second in 1975. They finished fourth in 1986 and 1996.

Arizona State is the nation's largest university, so the student population is huge. If the program won consistently, it's not hard to imagine a 71,000-seat Sun Devil Stadium filling up.

Sun Devils football was a big show well before the arrival of the Arizona Cardinals in 1988. In fact, the Cardinals were the Sun Devils stadium guests for 18 years, before they moved to University of Phoenix Stadium in in Glendale.

The bad: Arizona State has long been considered a "sleeping giant," and more than a few folks have asked why the program hasn't consistently won since the end of the Kush Era.

Arizona high school football hasn't traditionally been terribly strong, but it's vastly improved over the past 10 to 20 years and now the state regularly produces a solid number of FBS-level prospects.

Still, many of those prospects leave the state, perhaps because ASU has never consistently filled Sun Devil Stadium. The program averaged more than 70,000 fans in 1987-88 but hasn't hit that number since then, despite huge population increases. Even during an undefeated regular season in 1996, the stadium averaged 63,884. ASU's average attendance of 47,943 last fall was at 65 percent capacity, the lowest percentage in the Pac-12.

Professional sports really aren't the problem. While the Sun Devils have their rabid supporters -- like every program -- they haven't been able to fully tap into local fan passion in a major metropolitan area.