Arizona State considering Kenny Dillingham as coach: Sun Devils finalize deal to hire Oregon offensive coordinator

Arizona State is finalizing a deal to name Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham as its next football coach, sources confirm to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Dillingham, an Arizona State alum, oversaw a Ducks offense that fielded one of the most productive units in the nation this season, averaging 511.2 yards per game (No. 3 in the FBS) , 7.07 yards per game (No. 5 in the FBS) and 40.2 points per game (No. 4 in the FBS).

Dillingham is taking over the program after Arizona State fired Herm Edwards earlier this season amid a 1-2 start and an ongoing investigation into illegal recruiting practices during the COVID-19 dead period.

Although he is only 32 years old, Dillingham is a native of Scottsdale and rose quickly through the coaching ranks thanks to his debut in the Arizona high school ranks at a young age. He graduated from Arizona State in 2012 and was hired by then-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell to be a member of the Sun Devils’ offensive staff in 2014. The Norvell relationship continued with stints of attending Memphis (2016-18) and Florida State (2020-21) with a one-year stint at Auburn in between.

When Oregon coach Dan Lanning arrived as Ducks coach in December 2021, he moved quickly to bring Dillingham on board, knowing his expertise as a former colleague from their time together in Memphis. The same reasons Dillingham was such an attractive candidate for the Ducks to step down from the Pac-12 as offensive coordinator also apply to the Sun Devils, who will now hand their program over to a native son amid a lot – reboot required.

Youth movement in Tempe

Dillingham would become the youngest active Power Five coach if the hire was finalized. Interestingly enough, he takes that title from Lanning, who was the youngest power conference coach in 2022 at age 36. But beyond the notoriety of his youth, Dillingham’s age also represents a departure in recent hires by Arizona State for its football program. .

He would be the fifth head coach hired since 2001 for the Sun Devils, and in age and experience he is an outlier compared to the previous four. Dennis Erickson (2007-11) and Edwards (2018-22) brought extensive coaching histories as well as years of experience. Although Dirk Koetter (2001-06) and Todd Graham (2012-17) were only in their 40s when they arrived, the CV contained a few additional references.

But where Dillingham makes up for this apparent lack of experience is in the support he provides within the ASU community. Coaching high school football in Scottsdale for more than half a decade gave Dillingham connections that helped secure this opportunity, and Sun Devils fans hope it provides a spark to drive the program forward.

NCAA investigation persists

The NCAA is still investigating the Arizona State football program for alleged violations that occurred during the 2020 offseason. Even before Edwards’ firing, the program saw several assistants fired or resign due to the practices of illegal recruitment of the program during the dead period of COVID-19. The ongoing investigation has been a cloud over the future of the program, and Dillingham and his team may face some fallout.

By investing in someone like Dillingham, who is taking his first job but also has extensive experience in the field, Arizona State would be playing the long game and hoping that a son of the country can lead the program out of the storm into a better future.

Ability to mount in the Pac-12

With USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is about to see a shake-up in the supposed pecking order within the conference. These kinds of realignment moves can provide an opportunity for programs to leapfrog and gain new status within the conference hierarchy, and while the divisions will disappear, it’s very possible that Arizona State become the strongest presence in the south.

The demographics of Arizona and the Sun Devils’ recruiting base have seen high school football in the state improve, and Dillingham’s experience in that circuit should allow the program to win some of those battles even against their new competition based on the Big Ten. As Oregon and Washington battle for supremacy in the Northwest, the door is open for Arizona State, a program with just three Pac-12 championships under its belt, to become one of the regular contenders at the conference.

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