Wednesday, December 07, 2011

ASU ... ur doin' it wrong

I don't even know where to start, which is appropriate since Lisa Love apparently doesn't either (zing!). ASU's coaching search has gone from "what are they doing?" to "OMG WTF ARE THEY DOING???"

First it was Kevin Sumlin ...
The quest to hire Kevin Sumlin as Arizona State's next football coach is “almost a done deal,” according to a source with connections to ASU's football program.

Sumlin, currently coach of the University of Houston, will likely coach the Cougars in the Conference USA championship game Saturday before any announcement is made, but it is clear that Sumlin or an intermediary and ASU officials have been talking for a while.
... and then they were like "haha jk it's not Kevin Sumlin" ...
Arizona State has reportedly ended its pursuit Houston Cougars head coach Kevin Sumlin, according to My Fox Houston.

The sources told FOX 26 that Arizona State had been in discussions with Sumlin's agent, Trace Armstrong.

"We've dropped from further consideration and moved on," said the Arizona State source who requested anonymity.
... and then it was June Jones ...
A source close to the ASU football program has confirmed that June Jones will be named the team's next coach. The hire is likely to be announced this week.
... and then they were like "WAIT Y U JUNE JONES?" ...
SMU coach June Jones had accepted an offer to coach Arizona State and minor contract points were being ironed out, a source said, when his representatives today received a call saying the offer had been pulled.

The source said Arizona State's explanation was that "it took too long" and the school president was moving on.

"We had accepted the deal," the source said. "I've never seen anything like this."
... and now they're back where they started, at least in a chronological sense. They're not back where they started in a logistical sense since there are now fewer available options; Mike Leach is gone, Larry Fedora is gone and Jones is rightfully pissed. I don't know who's next on the list, and I'm not sure ASU knows.

I spent part of my afternoon defending the briefly inevitable Jones hire before discovering that I no longer needed to defend it. In case you're wondering, here are my reasons: (a) he's turned around two totally awful programs (and yes, going 23-28 at SMU is "turning it around" when it's the worst program in America and your first season ends at 1-11), (b) he's got a somewhat-unique system that would be a legitimate draw for quarterbacks and (c) he's an excellent recruiter (ASU has a pretty good 2012 recruiting class that happens to be ranked exactly the same as SMU's -- tied for 46th nationally -- on Rivals). If June Jones were 48 instead of 58, he'd be at the top of a lot of lists because he'd basically be Art Briles.

But therein lies my concern: He'll be 59 in a couple months. Unless he's Joe Paterno, he's not a long-term hire who's gonna build the program and then enjoy the fruits of his labor. He's a stopgap. In short, he'd be an OK hire: He'd almost definitely improve the program and win some games in the near future but wouldn't have the long-term upside (Jay Bilas says wut) of Briles or Kevin Sumlin or whoever. There's only so much that can be done in the five-ish years Jones has left as an effective coach.

Now that I've written all that, feel free to forget it; it's pretty much irrelevant since Jones is out of the picture (I think) and headed back to SMU. Just know that he's a fine human being:
"June was one of the candidates that we've looked at," ASU Chief Operating Officer Steve Patterson said. "We think he is a fine coach and human being, but we've made the decision to go in a different direction.

"There are a lot of very qualified coaches out there and we're going to continue the process."

Guh. As for who those "very qualified coaches" are ... ummm ... man, I dunno. Nobody else really knows either. It's worth nothing that Sumlin is somehow still out there and might be gettable on a second pass if he doesn't already have something in place with Texas A&M. There's also Art Briles, who's been my non-Mike Leach first choice the whole time and could probably still be had if ASU were willing to pony up $4 million for his buyout (unlikely but plausible if enough donors were on board). People keep suggesting Oregon O-coordinator Mark Helfrich (a former ASU assistant under Dirk Koetter) and Eastern Michigan coach Ron English (a former ASU defensive backs coach), but whether those are realistic candidates or throw-darts-at-a-nameboard candidates is unknown. I'm guessing the latter unless ASU gets really desperate.

Also, stop suggesting Noel Mazzone. The only thing worse than hiring a Plan F candidate would be hiring nobody. "We literally could not find a single candidate who was both interested in coaching us and acceptable to the fan base, so ... ummm ... Noel Mazzone!" Keeping a good-but-not-great recruiting class together (if that would even do it) means nothing in comparison to finding the right coach and not becoming a national punchline for what's quickly becoming one of the most nonsensical coaching searches in the history of coaching searches.

This comment (not even from a skeptical ASU fan!) pretty much sums things up:
Tell me with a straight face that you seriously thought ASU would do a good job with their coaching search.
You win, sir. I cannot do that. I'm not sure whether it's the complete ineptitude in the athletic department or the complete debacle that this search has become that's more laughable/depressing. Hopefully the hire itself works out a hell of a lot better than the process (whatever that process is).


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