ASU has no shortage of candidates to consider

Nov 28, 2011, 10:39 PM | Updated: 11:41 pm

The ax fell on the Dennis Erickson coaching era in Tempe
on Monday, and while Erickson and staff will concentrate
on preparing his team for the [Fill in the Blank] Bowl,
the rest of Sun Devil Nation (is there such a thing?) will
be focused on whom the next man to coach the football team
will be.

There is no shortage of names that may or may not be
considered by ASU VP of Athletics Lisa Love and University
President Dr. Michael Crow.

Here is a quick thumbnail on some of the names that are
floating about.

Kevin Sumlin

Present Job: Head coach at the University
of Houston

Pros: He’s the hottest young coaching
commodity in the country. At just 47 years of age, he has
led the Cougars to a 12-0 record and the precipice of a
BCS bowl appearance. Under Sumlin, Houston’s offense has
ranked in
the top eleven in the nation each season, and in the top
two three times (including this year). And he’s worked
with ASU offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone for years in
running the One-Back Clinic in Houston. Mazzone, who has
improved the Sun Devils’ offense in his two years as
coordinator could be retained in the right situation.

Cons: He’s also high on the coaching list
of every other school that’s looking for a coach which
will drive up his price, making it difficult for a state
school like ASU to compete.

Mike Leach

Present Job: College football analyst
with CBS Sports/ Amateur Pirate

Pros: Very innovative offensive mind.
Took Texas Tech to nine straight bowl games and five top-
25 finishes in the year-end polls.

Cons: Is suing ESPN for willful and
negligent defamation, so that might be a deterrent to
hiring him. Oh, and he allegedly locked Texas Tech tight
end (and son of ESPN broadcaster Craig James) Adam James
in a shed after he suffered a concussion. But who hasn’t
wanted to lock a member of the James family in a shed

Larry Fedora

Current Job: Head coach of Southern

Pros: USM has shown tremendous
improvement under his watch, going 7-6, 7-6, 8-5 and 10-2
this season. The Golden Eagles currently rank 15th in the
nation in total offense and 26th in total defense. Is the
greatest coach in college football history named after a
type of hat.

Cons: While showing improvement, Fedora’s
teams have feasted on competition in Conference USA.

Mike Bellotti

Present Job: College football analyst
with ESPN

Pros: Very familiar with life in the Pac-
12 as he coached the University of Oregon for 14 seasons.
Posted a 116-55 overall record and won two conference
titles while taking the Ducks to twelve bowl games.

Cons: Age. Bellotti is only three years
younger than Erickson, who many believed had seen the game
pass him by. Oh, and he won’t have Phil Knight
bankrolling the program.

Randy Shannon

Present Job: ?? (Was the head coach at
Miami from 2007 to 2010)

Pros: Very good defensive mind. Coached
five defenses ranked in the top ten nationally while he
was a defensive coordinator under Larry Coker. Credited
with cleaning up the Miami program, at least in terms off-
the-field conduct, but that didn’t translate to wins.

Cons: Only had 28-22 record at Miami–the
worst mark for any Miami coach since the late 70s and he’s
never coached anywhere other than Miami. And the last
time ASU hired a former Miami coach, well, you get it.

Ron English

Present Job: Head coach at Eastern

Pros: Excellent defensive coaching résumé
with coordinator stops at Michigan and Louisville, and
also a stint as the defensive backs coach at ASU from 1998
to 2002. He’s young at 43 years of age.

Cons: Has an 8-27 record at EMU, although
the team has showed improvement during his tenure. The
Eagles were 0-12 in English’s first year and finished up
2011 at 6-6.

Mark Helfrich

Present Job: Offensive Coordinator at
University of Oregon

Pros: He’s the offensive coordinator at
Oregon. Did you not read the line above this one?
Helfrich is a bright offensive mind, and led the top-
ranked offense in the nation in 2010 and this year the
Ducks rank 6th in the country.

Cons: Relative inexperience. He’s only
been coordinator at Oregon for two seasons. Before that,
he was the coordinator at Colorado, where his offenses
were middling at best. CU ranked 72nd nationally in 2007,
95th in 2008 and 104th in 2009.

Kirby Smart

Present Job: Defensive coordinator at
University of Alabama

Pros: The defenses at Alabama in his four
years on the job have been the best in the country,
ranking in the top five nationally each season. Smart is
the youngest of all candidates at just 35 years of age.

Cons: Has coached only in the deep South
at Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida State and Valdosta
State, so there may be those who hold a geographical bias
against him.

Paul Rhoads

Current Job: Head coach at Iowa State

Pros: He’s done a decent job in Ames,
coaching the Cyclones to an 18-18 record in three years.
That doesn’t seem like that great of a record, but
consider that Gene Chizik had a 5-19 mark in two seasons
at ISU.

Cons: Might not be a big enough name to
excite the masses.

…and for the diehards


Current Job: Spokesperson for Scottsdale

Pros: Strong ASU ties. Won two
championships…in the Arena Football League, with the
most recent coming in 1997.

Cons: Hasn’t coached a minute of college
football. Ever. Hasn’t played at ASU in 38 years. Isn’t
a candidate, except for in the minds of longtime ASU fans
who long for the days of being a WAC powerhouse.

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ASU has no shortage of candidates to consider