The Arizona State football coaching search is in its
infancy, and there have been dozens of names offered by
thousands of people. Fans and media alike have offered up
names that range from the out-of-reach (Jim Tressel, Chris
Petersen), to the realistic (Kevin Sumlin, Mike Bellotti,
Larry Fedora), to the obscure (Gary Andersen, Dave
But there’s one name that consistently pops up among some
Arizona State fans, and has for every Sun Devil coaching
search since Bruce Snyder was hired in 1992. The name is
For those who don’t know, Danny White was a high school
phenom at Westwood High School in Mesa, and an All-
American quarterback at ASU who won three Fiesta Bowls.
After leaving ASU in 1973, he embarked on a pro career–
mostly in Dallas as a quarterback and punter with the
Cowboys. He’s still third in Dallas history in career
passing yards, behind only Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach.
In 1992, he became the head coach of the Arizona Rattlers
of the Arena Football League, and led the Rattlers to the
first two pro sports championships in Phoenix history
(1994 and 1997).
At the turn of the millennium, White was named by The
Arizona Republic as the Arizona Athlete of the Century–a
much deserved honor.
I get it. Danny White is a legend who has accomplished
some great things for the state and more specifically,
Arizona State University. But that doesn’t mean he should
be a candidate for the Arizona State coaching job, and
there are plenty of reasons why.
He’s never coached a day of college
football in his life. Nope, not one. Not as a
position assistant, coordinator or head coach. If White
was serious about coaching his alma mater, the process
would have started long ago by taking seemingly menial
jobs in the coaching chain. Nobody, and I mean nobody
gets handed the keys to the program that they starred for
without paying their dues.
He’s nearly 60 years old. There
was so much talk about Dennis Erickson being too old for
the job and that the game had passed him by. Erickson was
59 years old and had 31 years of college coaching
experience and 18 years of head coaching on his résumé
when he was introduced by Lisa Love as ASU’s head coach in
December of 2006. White is 59 years old and has zero
experience on his. It’s been 38 years since White has had
any real connection to the college game other than
He’s previously stepped away from
coaching. White has been a very successful coach
in the Arena Football League. In fact, he’s one of the
best in the history of the league, with 162 victories (2nd
most all-time) and two championships. And while many will
argue that success in the Arena game doesn’t translate to
the outdoor game, I won’t. Head coaching is about
managing players, and White was very successful in that
One thing that I will point out that doesn’t translate
from the Arena League to major college football is the
stress level and the rigors of coaching. I’m not saying
there’s no stress in coaching Arena Football, but it’s
nowhere near the pressure that college coaches find
themselves under on a daily basis.
Yet, White walked away from coaching Arena Football,
citing the rigors of the job. In 2008, when White
returned to the Rattlers’ organization as the new
offensive coordinator (a job he never actually did because
the 2009 season was wiped out), he said as much.
“I always told myself and told my wife and my family that
if football ever began to run my life, it was gonna be
time to get out of football, or at least take a break. And
that happened the last couple years.” White later added
“football is a great, great game and I love it, but it’s
not first on my list of priorities…it’s third or fourth or
fifth, or somewhere down there.”
I like Danny White and I respect everything he’s
accomplished in his career.
But nostalgia is not an ingredient of a successful hire.
Especially when it’s 38 years of nostalgia.