Top Candidates: Arizona State


Herm Edwards is officially out at Arizona State. A loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night sealed his fate. Speculation was already swirling about his status as the Sun Devil’s head coach before the season started due to an NCAA investigation. We actually alluded to his hot seat during our series 99 things. Arizona State may have trouble finding many top candidates due to the potential sanctions against the program but they will try and find the right fit. A few names will still rise to the top of the list and someone will eventually take this job.

  • Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers Head Coach) – Many experts believe Rhule will be fired before the end of the season. He is not working out in Carolina and may explore a return to the college scene. Rhule took over a Baylor program which was in shambles after the Art Briles scandal. Rhule is qualified and knows how to lead a program which is in disarray. He led Baylor to an 11-3 in his final season before departing for the NFL. Rhule would have plenty of options if he chose to return to the college level. Would he pick the school with pending NCAA sanctions?
  • Hugh Freeze (Liberty Head Coach) – Most times when a coach is fired because of questionable morals a program is unlikely to hire another coach with a similar background. Freeze stepped down from Ole Miss after a scandal which resulted in him being out of coaching for multiple seasons. This will not stop Hugh Freeze from being a potential candidate for power five jobs. Freeze is 28-12 at Liberty including and has won at least eight games in the each of his first three seasons. Freeze is likely to get the job done but at what cost?
  • Tom Herman (Former Texas Head Coach) – Tom Herman found success at Houston before moving to Texas. Did he move too fast and take a job bigger than he could handle? Herman spent some time in the NFL and is not an analyst on CBS. Herman could be looking to jump back into the coaching ranks and Arizona State would provide job security for a few years while he puts his system in place. He used to recruit Texas and the southwest so he is familiar with the territory. Herman struggled with the attention and amount of pressure at Texas so Arizona State could provide some relief.
  • Alex Grinch (USC Defensive Coordinator) – One of the rising coordinators in the Pac-12 is Alex Grinch. He has spent time at Washington State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and now USC. Grinch has made a name for himself by turning atrocious defenses into respectable units. Grinch is going to have his opportunity to become a head coach in the near future. He seems to be comfortable on the west coast. USC still needs to have a good defense this season in order for Grinch to be considered. Would he jump at the opportunity to be the next Sun Devil’s head coach?
  • Jeff Lebby (Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator) – Lebby has become one of the best offensive coordinators in the country. He has built high powered offenses at UCF, Ole Miss and now Oklahoma. Lebby will offered head coaching jobs in the near future if he continues to build a successful offense at Oklahoma. He is only 38 years old and fits the mold of looking for a younger head coach. Lebby might get tabbed for a larger job so he may wait for a better opportunity. Arizona State could be a good starting point for Lebby but it would likely be a stepping stone for him in the long-term.
  • Jeff Traylor (UTSA Head Coach) – Jeff Traylor has helped UTSA become one of the most respected coaches in the group of five. Traylor helped UTSA to a 12-2 record last season including an 11-1 start. He is in his third season at UTSA and owns a career 20-9 record. Larger schools are going to be offering Traylor a position soon but will he leave the state of Texas? Traylor was a Texas high school coach before taking jobs at SMU, Texas and Arkansas. Arizona State should put Traylor at the top of their list.
  • Urban Meyer (Former Ohio State and Florida Head Coach) – Urban Meyer is not taking the Arizona State job even if the campus might interest him, if you know what I mean.
  • Dan Mullen (Former Florida Head Coach) – Dan Mullen struggled at Florida but his career has been successful. Mullen could have stayed at Mississippi State as long as he wished due to his success compared to the expectations. Mullen is only 50 years old and has more than a decade of experience as a head coach. He owns a career 103–61 record between Florida and Mississippi State. Arizona State’s expectations would be similar to Mississippi State which could entice Mullen to jump back into coaching.


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