The Arizona State head coaching search is now teetering on the brink of moving from soap opera drama to outright parody if a recent development turns out to be true.
On Thursday, night ArizonaSports.com's Paul Calvisi tweeted the following:
Patterson is of course ASU's Chief Operating Officer of Athletics, one of three principal figures leading the school's coaching search along with Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love and university president Michael Crow.
While no direct word from Patterson has been made regarding this new development, the school did release a statement on the search, cautioning fans to read news with "a healthy amount of skepticism" and to trust the school was conducting a "broad, thorough and highly professional search for a new football coach".
Could this statement be in response to Calvisi's report? Perhaps, but with everything that has transpired over the last two weeks, this coaching search has become a spy game.
While this search has provided more than it's far share of twist, turns, contradictions and frustration, this most recent development would be very troubling for a number of reasons.
Since the June Jones debacle, several names have emerged as a near consensus among media members as the latest batch of leading candidates. Among them are several coordinators with no prior head coaching experience, including Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chyrst, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and the presumed front-runner, Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
If true, eliminating them outright is a huge and unnecessary mistake, one that amounts to ASU handcuffing themselves in their own pursuit. There is nothing to be gained be limiting the potential pool of candidates solely for a lack of head coaching experience. If ASU truly wants to make a "broad" and "thorough" search, its an absolute must that the young up-and-coming coordinators are included.
The number of examples of current successful head coaches on any level who had no prior head coaching experience is too long to list, whether it's the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin or Oregon'sown Chip Kelly. ASU just tried and failed with the retread route with Dennis Erickson, leaving the program in dire need of a new energy and culture, things that would seem to favor a younger candidate.
Another factor is the likely salary an up-and-comer would command versus that of a veteran coach.
Dennis Erickson was making $1.5-million annually, but the coach's salaries in the Pac-12, led by Kelly's $2.8-million salary, illustrate a picture that the cost of a proven coach is only going to increase, especially in light of the new conference media deal money. A recent report that surfaced during the June Jones negotiations indicated ASU's cap was a $2-million salary, which did not factor in any buyouts. One of the stumbling blocks in Jones' case was his reported $2-million buyout from SMU.
Coordinators salaries and buyouts are no where near such figures. Take for instance Wilcox, who make $600,000 in salary and whose buyout is reportedly $300,000. For less than the cost of Erickson, ASU could land a talented young coach with great upside, which also allows for more money to be spent on building a top notch staff.
That's not to say that one route is better than the other. Each way has it's pros and cons. The fact of the matter is both warrant serious consideration.
The top names with head coaching experience seemingly on ASU's list are Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt and Kevin Sumlin of Houston.
For ASU's sake, fans should Calvisi's report proves to be wrong.
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