Arizona State Head Coaching Search: Handicapping The Race

The Arizona State Head Coaching position has taken more twists and turns then an episode of "The Young and the Restless." 

It has been a week since Dennis Erickson was officially fired and the position is still vacant. History says that ASU will need to hire a coach quickly in order to save an impressive recruiting class assembled by the former staff. Here is an updated look at the candidates for the job. 

The Frontrunners:

 June Jones, Head Coach-SMU: Reports surfaced this weekend that ASU officials took a private plane and met with Jones in Dallas last weekend. For about 12 hours Jones has as hot as any candidate to date. Reports last night said that ASU is cooling off on Jones. Apparently, it's not him, it's them. Jones is in his fourth season at SMU where he is 23-28, however SMU was horrific before Jones got there and he has led them to three straight bowl games. Before SMU, he compiled a 76-41 record in nine seasons as the head coach of Hawaii.  

The Good: Jones runs the offense that Lisa Love craves for Tempe. One thing Love said in her post-firing press conference is that she wants an exciting offense. Jones runs a pass oriented offense that puts up huge numbers. Former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang set the FBS record for career passing yardage with 17, 072 at Hawaii under Jones. Jones also has great recruiting ties to Texas and California. Places where ASU gets the bulk of its players.

The Bad: His age, Jones is 58 and has been coaching since the early 80's. Many fans believe that Jones could turn into the next Dennis Erickson. I just can't see Jones at ASU for 10-15 years. ASU's current state also doesn't fit Jones. Jones has turned around a struggling Hawaii program and a dormant SMU program. ASU is not needing to be turned around, they need a coach that will take them to the next level.

Larry Fedora, Head Coach-Southern Miss: According to some reports Fedora is the new bell of the ball for Arizona State. Fedora is in high demand as he could be the leading candidate at Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Fedora has compiled a 32-19 record in four seasons at Southern Miss. Before that he had stops at Oklahoma State and Florida as an offensive coordinator. Fedora has led Southern Miss to four bowls in four years and a Conference-USA Championship in 2011.

The Good: Fedora is another offensive minded coach that would bring a fun system to Tempe. Fedora was a top assistant coach from 2002-2007 and his offenses put up huge numbers. Fedora's first season Southern Miss put up 663 yards in a game, shattering the school record. Fedora has also proved that he can recruit in SEC country. In his first season he landed five star WR DeAndre Brown, who had offers from just about every SEC school. 

The Bad: If bigger schools want Fedora ASU probably will not get him. Rumors put him atop the list for the vacancies at Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Fedora is from College Station, Texas, and has a coaching history in the BIg-12. Some will also say he is the poor mans Kevin Sumlin (to be mentioned later). He hasn't put up the offensive numbers or wins that Sumlin's teams have put up. Fedora also has no recruiting ties to the west coast.

Kevin Sumlin, Head Coach-Houston: Sumlin was originally  offered the job (according to reports). ASU was in hard pursuit of Sumlin until they learned that Texas A&M had an eye for the Houston head coach. ASU backed off and starting look elsewhere. Sumlin is 35-17 in four years at Houston. He led the Cougars to a 12-1 record this season and one game away from a BCS bowl. Houston ranked first in total offense and scoring offense this season. Before Houston, Sumlin was the OC at Oklahoma from 2006-2007. 

The Good: An offensive minded coach who has had success at every stop he has made. There is a lot to like about Sumin. He is the youngest candidate mentioned so far, 47. His runs an offense that kids will want to play for and more importantly to ASU, people will want to see. He can recruit Texas well and has some ties to the West Coast. 

The Bad: Once again, it seems as if ASU is not high on Sumlin's list. ASU pressed him hard early but backed off when they felt that they were waisting their time. ASU players also vouched for current OC Noel Mazzone. If Sumlin is hired he will bring in his own OC and Mazzone will likely be out. Sumlin also needs his players to run his system. The one year without Case Keenum he went 5-7. It has yet to be determind if Brock Osweiler can make the throws in the system that Keenum made. 

The Darkhorses:

Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator-Alabama: Smart has been the Alabama DC since 2007. He is the coordinator for arguable the best defense in the nation won a national championship in 2009. His defenses are always fast and talented and he has sent numerous players to the NFL including: Marcel Dareus,Rolando McClain and Rashad Johnson. If ASU hires Smart, they also have a chance at keeping OC Noel Mazzone, which would be a move favored by the players and would help recruiting. 

Mark Helfrich, Offensive Coordinator-Oregon: Sun Devil fans have been watching Helfrich's offense run over the Pac-12 for the past three seasons. Helfrinch coached under Dirk Koetter from 2001-2005. In 2005 ASU finished third nationally in passing yards per game (373.9) and ASU led the Pac-10 in passing in 2004 and 2005 under Helfrinch who was coaching the quarterbacks. Helfrinch would install a fast and explosive offense that would entice recruits. What sets Helfrinch apart from other candidates is his ties to ASU, under Helfrinch ASU was one of the best passing teams in the country. 

Art Briles, Head Coach-Baylor: Briles has had his name thrown around with ASU recently. Briles has turned around Baylor, leading them to a 9-3 record this year and turning Robert Griffin III into a Heisman candidate, if not the frontrunner. Before Baylor, Briles spent five years as the head coach of Houston where he went 34-28 and led the Cougars to the Conference-USA Title in 2006. This year Baylor beat TCU, Oklahoma and Texas and finished third in the Big-12.

Jim Mora Jr- Currently Unemployed: Mora has had his name thrown around the job but it is a long shot that he gets it. Mora coached in the NFL for four seasons going 31-33. HIs last job was a one year stint with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009, where he went 5-11. Mora is now with the NFL Network as an analyst. Mora is a defensive minded coach who could entice recruits with his NFL ties. 

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