Who's Left in Arizona State Football Coaching Search?
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It has been a rough six weeks for the Arizona State Sun Devils football program and its fans. What started out as such a promising season has ended in disappointing, underachieving fashion.
The Sun Devils were 6-2 and well on their way to winning the Pac-12 South division and playing in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game. However, after locking up bowl eligibility, the Sun Devils lost focus and proceeded to lose the final four games of the season. No Pac-12 South title. No BCS bowl. Another disappointing season under Dennis Erickson.
On November 28, Erickson was given the pink slip. Sun Devil nation finally had something to relieve some of the frustration from a disheartening season. Now Lisa Love and company will go out and get us a big name. Someone who will finally elevate the program to new heights. A coach who will make Arizona State football relevant on a national level.
Not so fast...
This is where the disappointment has returned for the Sun Devil faithful. The coaching search has been an embarrassment, as described by Bleacher Report’s own Chris Green here. Aside from barely even trying with Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, the Arizona State athletic department had an offer on the table with SMU’s June Jones, only to withdraw it at the last minute with no real explanation.
Since the negotiations with Jones broke down, fans have been subject to seeing a different name pop up almost daily for the head coach position. Meanwhile, football programs around the nation are signing big-name coaches. Mike Leach to Washington State. Jim L. Mora to UCLA. Larry Fedora to UNC.
Is ASU going to wait until all of the big names are gone? Does it have a name in its hip pocket that it is not letting the press know about? Only time will tell, but in the meantime let’s take a look at some of the options still out there for the Sun Devils' coaching vacancy.
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Kyle Whittingham's name has been surfacing over the last couple of days as a potential hire for ASU, as posted in this Fox Sports Arizona article. This could be a big move for the program. Whittingham is a proven winner with a 62-25 regular-season record along with a 6-1 record in bowl games.
Whittingham is a very details-oriented coach with a defensive pedigree—two attributes that are in need right now at Arizona State.
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Another big name recently linked to the ASU coaching job is Jim Leavitt, linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers.
Leavitt is also the former head coach of South Florida, a program that was nothing before he took over. Under Leavitt, South Florida was 95-57, including a BCS ranking of No. 2 in 2007. It should be noted that Leavitt was let go from South Florida after it was determined he struck one of his players.
Leavitt recently received a big endorsement for the ASU job from Jon Gruden on the Doug & Wolf show, a local Phoenix radio show that airs on Arizona Sports 620.
Justin Wilcox is the young defensive coordinator at Tennessee. At age 36, ASU may be looking to get the next big thing with a hire here. In 2011, Wilcox's defense is ranked 28th in the nation in total defense and 35th in scoring defense.
His name has been linked to the job by Arizona Sports 620's John Gambadoro. This is a name that seems to be picking up steam in the media of late.
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I know, I know. This is a LONG shot. Nobody is even bringing his name up for the coaching search. The fact remains that he is without a job right now.
Jim Tressel was an outstanding coach at arguably the biggest football school in the country. Multiple BCS bowls. Constantly in the Top Five. This would be a huge hire for the Sun Devils.
There was some buzz earlier in the week about a possible hire at UCLA, but it has decided to go with Mora.
Come on Lisa Love! Give Tressel a chance. This guy is a recruiting monster and can get Sun Devils football over the hump. With the monster hires of Mora, Leach and Rodriguez in the Pac-12, a Tressel hire could put us ahead!
Wishful thinking, I suppose...
Someone We Haven't Heard of Yet...
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With the current state of ASU's coaching search, there is a good possibility that the new head coach may be a name we haven't heard yet. Sun Devils fans can only hope that it won't be a continuation of the mediocrity the school has endured for far too long...
Bleacher Report readers: Any ideas?