Todd Graham out: Who will lead Arizona State next season?
It’s official. Todd Graham is no longer the football coach for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
News of the firing broke Sunday morning after Graham met with Arizona State’s Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson. Many believed that the Sun Devils’ win over Arizona in the Territorial Cup Saturday would have saved Graham’s job, but that turned out to be false.
Now, Anderson begins the search for Arizona State’s next head football coach, and he has many options.
Former LSU coach Les Miles has expressed interest in returning to coaching after he was fired in 2016. However, there is no apparent interest from ASU.
Bret Bielema, who was fired after five years at Arkansas, is interested in ASU’s opening, according to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro, but it’s unknown whether the feeling is mutual. The same goes for former Texas coach Mack Brown, per Gambadoro.
Some fans asked 98.7 FM’s Mike Jurecki about the possibility of former Sun Devils’ offensive coordinator Mike Norvell returning to Tempe. However, reports have claimed Norvell, who is head coach at Memphis, is interested in an SEC gig in the near future.
A new coach is expected to be announced before the early signing period on Dec. 20, Anderson said in a press conference Sunday.
Here’s a short-list of names connected to the ASU opening.
Kevin Sumlin – head coach, Texas A&M
With nine years of head coaching experience between Houston and Texas A&M, Sumlin managed an overall record of 79-38. In his first season with Texas A&M, Sumlin led the Aggies to an 11-2 record and a win in the Cotton Bowl. Since then, the Aggies have not managed to win more than nine games, finishing 9-4 in 2013 and 8-5 every season since. Like Graham, Sumlin was fired Sunday after his sixth year on the job as the Aggies sit fourth in the SEC West standings with an overall record of 7-5. Sumlin has been rumored as a likely option to replace Graham at Arizona State should he be fired from Texas A&M — he was also a target of ASU’s before it hired Graham in 2011.
Derek Mason – head coach, Vanderbilt
A Phoenix native, Mason served as the defensive coordinator at Stanford for three seasons, including the 2013 season when Stanford was crowned Pac-12 champion. Shortly after, Mason was announced as the new coach for Vanderbilt. Now in his fourth season, Mason has led the Commodores to one bowl game and an overall record of 18-31 in the SEC West. While his tenure at Vanderbilt has not been easy, there has been steady improvement each season since Mason arrived. The Commodores won three games in 2013 and as many as six last season. Mason’s job security has weakened as Vanderbilt sits at 5-7 this year. Nonetheless, he remains a possibility for Arizona State.
Teryl Austin – defensive coordinator, Detroit Lions
Austin’s long tenure as a coach dates back to when he was a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1991. Austin was a defensive backs coach for Michigan, Syracuse and Wake Forest before joining the Seattle Seahawks for his first stint in the NFL. Sine then, Austin has coached defensive backs for the Arizona Cardinals before he became the defensive coordinator for Florida. In 2011, Austin joined the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons before joining the Detroit Lions as a defensive coordinator in 2014. It is no secret that Anderson is intrigued by coaches with NFL connections, having served as the executive vice president of football operations for the NFL before coming to ASU. That includes interest in Austin, according to USA Today’s Dan Wolken.
Pep Hamilton – passing game coordinator, University of Michigan
Hamilton’s coaching career started at his alma mater, Howard University. He became the quarterbacks coach shortly after graduating before becoming the offensive coordinator. Hamilton has made many moves between the college ranks and the NFL during his coaching career. In 2003 he joined the New York Jets where he spent three seasons before leaving for the San Francisco 49ers. He became a quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears in 2007, then moved on to Stanford University in 2010. In 2013 he became the Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator for three season and then spent 2016 with the Browns as an Associate Head Coach. Now with Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, Hamilton is another intriguing possibility for Arizona State thanks to his multiple ties to the NFL. Wolken and 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro report Hamilton’s named has been mentioned in ASU circles.