Minimal fuss accompanied Jordan Simone’s departure from the Washington State football team.
He was a walk-on who had played some special teams as a freshman in 2011, and fans might not have known his name if not for his older brother, Gino, who at the time was a Cougars receiver. So Jordan’s decision to walk away from the program early in the spring of 2012 — coach Mike Leach’s first at WSU — didn’t rate as panic-worthy.
Nobody could have known, of course, that after sitting out the 2012 season, Simone would land as a walk-on at Arizona State, where his father played … and make a positive impression on the scout team as a redshirt … and earn a scholarship last August before totaling 100 tackles in 12 games in 2014 as one of the Pac-12’s most productive safeties.
So there he was Thursday at Pac-12 media days, a fifth-year senior and team captain who was serving as ASU’s defensive player representative.
“Just checking off some goals,” said the Sammamish native and Skyline High School alum. “Just write your goals down, and then your dreams become reality.”
The credit for the resurrection of Simone’s football career is due partially to ASU co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball, who was WSU’s defensive coordinator under then-coach Paul Wulff during Simone’s freshman season in 2011.
That was a healthy relationship, but when Wulff and his staff were fired following that season, it changed Simone’s trajectory.
“The new coaches came in, and I just wasn’t what I wanted to be,” Simone said Thursday at Warner Bros. Studios. “Ultimately, I was done with it, and my love for the game was gone. Thank God, Coach Ball was there to take me in, (like a) little shelter puppy.”
Simone figured ASU and Eastern Washington — the only school to offer him a scholarship out of high school — were his only options if he wanted to continue playing football.
So, he said, “I went down to ASU and visited, and was like, ‘There’s no way I can’t go here.’”
His Sun Devils teammates immediately accepted him as one of their own — Simone is now roommates and best friends with ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici — and the 6-foot, 193-pound shelter puppy has since played his way into a leadership role on what should be one of the league’s most fearsome defenses.
As for WSU?
“I wish them the best of luck,” Simone said. “But I’m a Sun Devil. I’ve been a Sun Devil my whole life. Ever since I was a little kid, my dad had me in Sun Devil gear. There was just a year and a half there where I was a Coug. I’m back to my Sun Devil ways.”
The Pac-12 appears eager to reverse the negative perception surrounding its officials.
David Coleman, the new vice president of officiating, outlined Friday his plan to improve the quality of the league’s officiating.
Changes include the addition of an eighth on-field official and more transparency in the evaluation process. And, for the first time, replays of plays that are under review will be shown on stadium video boards.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he’s “delighted” that conference partner AT&T has successfully purchased DirecTV, the most notable provider yet to reach a deal to carry the Pac-12 Network.
“I’m confident we’ll be a priority” for AT&T, Scott said, “and there will be discussions that take place hopefully very soon.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll have positive conversations. I can’t predict what may happen when because those conversations have not been able to take place heretofore. But I’m delighted for our partners, delighted for us.”
Christian Caple: 253-597-8437