New ASU OC Marcus Arroyo fits Kenny Dillingham’s criteria to a tee
Jan 22, 2024, 1:10 PM
(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
TEMPE — Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Kenny Dillingham didn’t skimp when it came to his criteria for the program’s next offensive coordinator this offseason.
Not only did he want someone with NFL and head-coaching experience, the second-year head coach was determined to land someone whose finger was on the pulse of running a pro-style offense.
And just as important, Dillingham wanted “a quarterback guy.”
Longtime offensive mind Marcus Arroyo fit that billing to a tee.
“When you call his references, when you call the guys like Todd Monken, when you call the guys like Dirk Koetter and they all give you the same name of the same guy,” Dillingham said Friday. “And he didn’t even give you those names, you just called some people you respect in the profession, and they all give you the same person, you’re like, ‘Wow. This person’s four hours away and he wants to be here.’ He has family who’s from here. He has people who own restaurants in the Valley that live here.
“There was a lot of things that went into it, but I wanted a quarterback-driven guy. I wanted a guy who’s very, very detailed in terms of route depths — a lot less freedom, a lot more structure, which I am a little more comfortable with. And a guy who’s willing to get on somebody when the standard’s not met. He does all those things and with his experience in the NFL and coaching quarterbacks and calling plays at that level, I think it’s a really good fit.”
Why Marcus Arroyo chose Arizona State
Arroyo joins Dillingham’s staff with a wealth of experience dating back to his time as an undergraduate assistant at his alma mater, San Jose State, in 2003.
Since then, Arroyo has had stops at multiple institutions, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QBs coach (2014), Oregon Ducks assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and QBs coach (2019) and UNLV head coach (2020-22).
With the resume and connections Arroyo has, there was interest from other programs.
But after using 2023 to properly weigh his options, it would be the Sun Devils that most aligned with what he wanted out of a football program.
“We had an awesome year to kind of travel around and see the people that I’ve been connected with the past 20 years in NFL and college,” Arroyo said. “When the conversations started back up with a few people at both levels across the country, I just had to make sure I was making the decision based on the people, the place and obviously, the ability for the place to be successful.
“When me and Kenny started talking, we kind of hit it off in how they saw things, how we treat people first, how he was going to run the business, how he and his coaches work. … Then we started talking football and that was the easy part.”
The QB competition ahead
Dillingham clearly has a vision of what he wants out of ASU’s offense under Arroyo:
“A run play-action football team that plays fast with pro-style rules. A pro-style offense that plays fast.”
In Dillingham’s eyes, that’s the model that is producing some of the best offenses in college football right now.
As for who will be under center helping lead that charge, that’s up for debate, with newcomer Sam Leavitt joining the program this offseason to compete with Jaden Rashada and Trenton Bourguet.
But until offseason work begins ramping up for the football program, it’s about establishing relationships within the QBs room for Arroyo.
“I can’t wait to see. … We haven’t thrown a ball, we have talked a whole bunch of stuff, there’s not many meetings yet, but I think overall … the one thing I’m most excited about is I have met them as humans,” Arroyo said. “There’s a piece there with those guys that I feel like they connect well. They want to be connected with. I think they’re good people. I think they’re hard workers. I think it’s important to them.
“I think at the end of the day at that position, you need to be smart, tough and productive. The productive part we don’t know yet, but I do know they’ve been smart in regards to being on time and doing things right. They seem like resilient guys. I’m excited, because I think they’re all competitive and have a spirit about them and obviously some things on film that you really like.”