Why ASU’s Kenny Dillingham feels he can lead as youngest Power 5 head coach

Nov 28, 2022, 11:54 AM | Updated: 12:03 pm

Native Arizonan and Arizona State alumnus Kenny Dillingham’s introduction to the Sun Devil fanbase as head football coach was passionate and full of optimism.

However, at 32 years old, Dillingham becomes the youngest head coach at a Power Five school. On top of that, he’s never been a head coach in his career.

“It’s all about leading people,” Dillingham said Sunday when asked about his lack of head coaching experience. “I’ve been leading men at Auburn at 27. I’ve been leading men at Florida State at 29 … that’s all it’s about.”

In addition to his roles at Auburn and Florida State, Dillingham coached at Chaparral High School in Arizona, at Memphis and, most recently, Oregon.

He started coaching coaching junior varsity quarterbacks at Chaparral when he was 17 years old after he tore his ACL. Eleven years later, he got his first job as a college offensive coordinator at Memphis.

So while he’s young in age, he’s seasoned as a coach with pitstops all around the country.

As he’s grown as a coach, he’s seen firsthand how players have adapted to their respective programs over time. In his press conference, he mentioned that he disagrees with the notion that players are changing.

“I think people are just allowing kids to change and people are scared to tell kids the truth,” Dillingham said. “I’ve never been scared of the tough conversation.”

That should be put to the test immediately. In fact, that’s atop his priority list.

While there’s been resounding support of this hire on social media, the newest ASU head coach still has to meet with the players and form relationships.

“[I want to] meet the players and meet the people associated with the program,” Dillingham said. “This is home for me but every place is about the people … from the janitors to the secretaries.”

The Sun Devils are coming off their worst overall season as a Pac team in program history.

While their 2-7 conference record matched that of 2016 and 2009, and bested the 1-7 record of 2001, only twice has the school finished with a worse overall winning percentage than 2022.

Arizona State Football

Follow @AZSports...

Arizona Sports

ASU’s Dillingham: QB Jaden Rashada ‘addicted to trying to be better’

The beginning of the Kenny Dillingham era in Tempe comes with an unknown at quarterback but also a few interesting options.

3 days ago

Kenny Dillingham, ASU football head coach...

Arizona Sports

2023 ASU football schedule includes FS1 appointments in nonconference

The Arizona State Sun Devils will begin the Kenny Dillingham era with a favorable schedule of four home games in a row.

3 days ago

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)...

Tom Kuebel

ASU receives commitment from 2024 prospect Albert Smith III

Arizona State football added a commitment from EDGE rusher Albert Smith III for its 2024 recruiting class, Smith announced on Twitter Sunday.

13 days ago

Offensive lineman Isaia Glass #73 of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks on from the sideline in the...

Wills Rice

The Draft Network: Pair of ASU offensive linemen impress at summer camp

Two Sun Devils competed in the second annual BRUTE OLine Development Camp in Minnesota this week and impressed scouts.

14 days ago

Follow @AZSports...

Character Counts

What a Guy: Former ASU lineman gifts Mother’s Day bouquets at hospital 

Former ASU defensive lineman and current Patriot Lawrence Guy provided a thoughtful gesture while his family was welcoming its fourth child.

16 days ago

Kori Roberson ASU football...

Jake Anderson

Arizona State lands former Oklahoma DL Kori Roberson via transfer portal

Former Oklahoma defensive lineman Kori Roberson announced his commitment to Arizona State via the transfer portal on Tuesday.

18 days ago

Why ASU’s Kenny Dillingham feels he can lead as youngest Power 5 head coach