AD Anderson expects to name new ASU football coach within a month
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson expects to name a new coach before the early signing period for college football, which runs from Dec. 20-22.
“It’s absolutely necessary; we don’t have a choice,” he said. “Everybody else, they’re out there running and ripping and roaring now.”
Anderson provided some insight on the characteristics he is looking for in the man who will replace Todd Graham, who was fired Sunday morning after six seasons at the helm, a 46-31 record and five bowl appearances, with one of those yet to be played.
“Got to be a dynamic recruiter and you’ve got to be able to go into anybody’s house in southern California, northern California, Louisiana, Texas and sell the vision,” Anderson said. “Not just of Sun Devil football but of Sun Devil Athletics and ASU, the institution.”
Anderson said the new coach would need head coaching experience to take over the program at this stage, ruling out several coordinators who have been mentioned as possibilities.
Anderson said Sun Devil Athletics would not use a search firm to find its next football coach. Instead, the department will rely on an internal process — a select, internal group and the advice of Anderson’s many contacts from his legal and NFL days.
Recent reports suggest the buyout of Graham’s contract could cost the department more than $12 million. Anderson said he has a plan to pay for it.
“There’s no state tax money, there’s no student fee, there’s no nothing that we will draw on to fix our own problem,” he said. “Through our own athletic department-generated revenue and new ticket sales and whatever we have to do, that’s my problem to fix.”
University president Michael Crow has made it clear that big spending for a football coach is not in line with the university’s mission and fiscal plan. Anderson acknowledged the impact of that stance on the process.
“We’re not planning to change that,” he said. “We don’t want to be the SEC or Big Ten in terms of salaries. We’re a state institution. We’re not a private institution with goo-gobs of money in our coffers. We have to be disciplined.
“We’re going to pay for performance. We’re going to be solidly in the middle of the pack and then, in terms of our incentives for performance on the field and academically, we will be aggressively fair.”
While buyouts of Graham’s assistant coaches could cost the department more than $2 million, per reports, Anderson said the new coach would come in with the understanding that keeping some of the assistants must be considered. Anderson singled out offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett as two men who warrant consideration to remain with the program, based on their performance this season.
Per contracts, buyouts that would be owed Arizona State assistants include:
Phil Bennett: $812,500
Billy Napier: Approx $700
Rob Likens: $437,500
As with Todd Graham’s, deals don’t address mitigation/offset
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) November 26, 2017
“We would want someone with an open mind and the ability to not do it the same old way that most coaches want to do it,” Anderson said, “come in and throw in a grenade and ‘I want to bring in all my own guys.’
“We’re not interested in that guy.”
Fired Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason are among the candidates in whom Anderson may have interest, but Anderson made it clear that firing Graham wasn’t about putting his own stamp on the program and the department.
“I’m not bringing my own guy in, I’m bringing someone in that I think will elevate ASU football and ASU, the institution,” he said. “I’m not really concerned about my guy. I want the right guy.”