Now that former Arizona State offensive coordinator is officially the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, how do the Sun Devils fill the hole left by Todd Graham’s long-time right-hand man?
It is clear there is no bad blood between Graham and Norvell, at least publicly, based on how they’ve reacted to the hire.
“I am so proud of Mike and the career he has forged for himself,” Graham said in a statement. “Mike stands for all of the things that we teach in our program, which are character, toughness, discipline and integrity. The work that Mike did with quarterbacks Taylor Kelly, Mike Bercovici, Manny Wilkins, Brady White and Bryce Perkins has been phenomenal. They will be forever indebted to him for that.”
Norvell also gushed about Graham in his introductory press conference.
“That’s my mentor,” he said. “A guy I spent nine years with, tremendous football coach, a tremendous leader, a guy of value. He’s done so much to get me to this point and for that I’d like to say thank you.”
Though the two seemed to differ on how to run the offense at times, especially this year, their close relationship will be tough to replicate. Moreover, Graham and his staff have built a program that would make it difficult to bring in someone brand new, as Chris Karpman with SunDevilSource pointed out on to Burns and Gambo on ArizonaSports 98.7 FM Thursday.
“The ASU system, how they implement it currently, is very unique,” Karpman said. “It’s hard for someone who is outside of what they do, even if it’s a similar type of an offense, it’s hard for someone outside of their terminology to come in and take hold. So I don’t know if they’re going to go that route, but I think Todd Graham is going to keep an open mind because he does have an out of the box approach to this type of hire.”
If the Sun Devils were going to look internally, Karpman thinks O-line coach Chris Thompson could be a candidate.
“[He] is someone who already has experience being very involved in play-calling, scheming, things of that nature,” Karpman said. “I think he has a chance.”
As to whether a complete overhaul is in store, Karpman says that’s unlikely though he thinks they will look to adjust toward Graham’s preferred style.
“I think they want to be a run play-action pass team. That’s going to be an emphasis, certainly, of Graham as he looks into this decision.”
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