The rivalry between Arizona State and the University of Arizona is one of the oldest in college football. In fact, according to KnowRivalry.com, the Territorial Cup is the strongest of its type in the whole sport.
When former Sun Devils running back Eno Benjamin arrived on campus from Wylie, Texas, he did not truly understand the depth of the contention. How could he? His first year, he was stuck on the depth chart behind current Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. In the two years that followed before foregoing his senior year of eligibility and getting selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft to the Arizona Cardinals, Benjamin wreaked havoc on the Wildcats.
He never lost to them in his three-year ASU career.
In the process, Benjamin grew to embody the rivalry. He enjoyed ripping the hearts out of Arizona fans and destroying the morale of their team. A brand was even born from the hatred.
"Tucson's Most Hated came from a tweet," Benjamin said. "Coming from Texas, I knew about the rivalry, but I never knew exactly what it was about. And my freshman year here at Arizona State when we played them, I didn't get too much into it, I wasn't really playing. I never really understood what the rivalry meant. So, my second year playing there, there was a lot of engagement going on, trash talking. And so that's when I kind of — I found out what it felt like for that rivalry and it kind of just fueled me. Going into this past season, a tweet that I put out was, I think it was like, 'I'm randomly thinking thoughts that are going through my head. I want to be one of the most hated men in Tucson.' So, everyone just kind of ran off with that and that's kind of how the story of Tucson's Most Hated came about.
Since then, Benjamin has crafted a clothing line that features the slogan while a picture depicts a cartoon version of him stiff-arming a Wildcats opponent who is trying to tackle him to the ground.
Now that he will play for the NFL team that represents the state of Arizona, Benjamin was asked on Wednesday how he would approach accepting Tucson Cardinals faithful into his life. In short, it will be difficult.
"That was a question that went through my head," Benjamin said. "That was something I thought about, but I haven't given too much thought about that because I am faithful to my school, but just knowing what it's all going to have to take just to let them back in my life and just (letting) me back into their life as well. So, we're going to see, but for right now, I think we're gonna stay sidelined. We need to sideline them for sure."