Shaun Aguano era begins at ASU, vows to ‘personally recruit Arizona kids’
TEMPE — The Shaun Aguano era as interim head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils football team officially began on Monday.
Aguano gave the players a 24-hour grieving period following the departure of their former head coach Herm Edwards. But with the first practice under the interim head coach commencing on Tuesday, both players-only and coaches-only meetings were held that led to all parties being “all in” for the remainder of the 2022 ASU football season.
Aguano said on Monday that there won’t be any drastic changes made, but over the next few weeks, he will instill his own thumbprint on various things across the program.
“(Offensive coordinator) Glenn Thomas is an incredible coach. Do I have some suggestions? Yes, I do,” he said. “I think (defensive coordinator) Donnie Henderson with (special assistant to the head coach) Marvin Lewis are exceptional coaches. Will I have some gametime suggestions? Yes, I will, especially in that moment. I let them coach. If I see something that I don’t like, I’ll make sure that I let them know.”
Aguano preached on how important attention to detail is to him, especially on the practice field. The lack thereof last week led to ASU’s eventual 30-21 loss at home to Eastern Michigan, both Edwards and QB Emory Jones said after the game.
But now with Aguano at the helm, the interim head coach is committed to correcting those mistakes during practice before they show up on gameday.
“I think if we set that foundation, and now it’s not going to be a miracle, but it’s going to be changed right away,” he said. “It will be changed where we don’t make those dumb mistakes as we call it during the games. And so paying attention to detail, understanding what the kids can do from a personnel standpoint and then playing the right kids and personnel at the right times.”
The new interim head coach won’t be walking into a cupcake schedule to begin his tenure either, as his first three games in charge will be against a gauntlet of teams all ranked in the top 20 of the AP poll to begin Pac-12 play. Aguano said he’s looking forward to the challenge of Arizona State hosting No. 13 Utah, traveling to No. 7 USC and then returning home to face No. 18 Washington over the next three weeks.
He also added that Lewis, defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez and sports performance head coach Joe Connolly each came into his office to speak with him on their respective experiences with interim head coaches in the past. The trio dished out not only what good changes were made, but how not keeping promises bore negative consequences.
“I learned from that. I’m a lifelong learner, I’m a good listener and so I take that all into account,” he said. “I wrote every single one of them down to make sure that I don’t make that mistake and I’m fortunate to have coaches on the staff who I truly call friends to give me that knowledge. So do I lean on them? Yes, I do, absolutely. … And that I respect tremendously.”
Aguano said his goal over the next 10 weeks is to keep his players, coaches and their families in Tempe — meaning he wants the product on the field to be good enough to convince all those involved to not jump ship, which is something that’s often seen when a change in leadership is made.
And in addition to his first priority always being to get his team prepared to play football games, the former Chandler High School football head coach (2011-18) made a declaration on the recruiting front that hasn’t been seen in quite some time at ASU.
“I will personally recruit Arizona kids. I know their coaches, I know what they are about, I know what the kids want,” Aguano said. “I’ve sat on the other side of that and what they’re sold against. … I’m in a position right now for the next step 10 weeks to make an impact, to get our kids in Arizona to be excited about Arizona State football.
“If you do not win and you put out a poor product, people will look elsewhere and I understand that we have to make sure that these kids want to go nowhere else but Arizona State. So my conversations with these kids will be personal because I understand them. No other coach can recruit to Arizona State with the knowledge base that I have here in Arizona.”