This is a widely unpopular opinion across the Arizona State Sun Devils fanbase. Believe it or not, the major coaching turnover that is currently taking place in Tempe is a good thing for the program.
Since Todd Graham took over the football team four years ago, his coaching staff remained pretty much intact. This is an accomplishment considering ASU still belongs to second-tier teams within a young and developing Pac-12 conference. Arizona State is not a top-notch football school, and teams that are classified among this category usually come and eat at the lower level buffet.
It is just the way it works. The historic alpha schools prevail on the regularly competitive programs, which stay alive by using the small conference juggernauts to reload.
This hierarchy is, once again, working in favor and against the Sun Devils.
After four years of great work under Todd Graham, offensive coordinator and longtime protege Mike Norvell decided to stand up on its own two feet. He was promoted to a head coaching job in Memphis, one of the best Group of Five teams over the last two years. Tight end coach Chip Long and defensive backs coach Chris Ball followed Mike Norvell, respectively getting promoted to offensive and defensive coordinators with the Tigers.
The three young and promising coaches will operate with more power and a higher salary. It has been a long time coming for ASU, and practically impossible to avoid.
A few weeks later, the mighty SEC came in the mix and grabbed three other assistants from the Sun Devils. Defensive line coach Jackie Shipp left the program for the same position with Missouri. Running backs coach Kodi Burns decided to go back to Auburn, his alma mater, after spending only three weeks in Tempe. Recruiting coordinator Patrick Suddes joined him with the Tigers a couple days later to become the director of player personnel, armed with deep ties in the South and an impressive resume at Alabama, Texas and now Arizona State.
Todd Graham is a former student of the Gus Malzahn school of football. The head coaches happen to be good friends and know each other very well. It is nearly inconceivable to refuse a promotion in a major SEC football program, and Todd Graham perfectly knows that. The assistant coach market is very unstable in modern's college football. Contracts are short and new coaches rise quickly and regularly.
When you have a better opportunity in hand, you better take it immediately before the window shuts.
Todd Graham uses the same analogy to replace the departures inside his staff. ASU hired Southern Mississippi head coach Chip Lindsey to supplant Mike Norvell at the helm of the maroon and gold offense.Chris Ball is replaced by T.J. Rushing, previously a defensive assistant in Stanford and a former graduate assistant with the Sun Devils, to coach the defensive backs.
Joe Seumalo comes in from UNLV and Oregon State to direct the defensive line. He developed several NFL players and built a reputation of being a proven recruiter around the West Coast. Even better, Seumalo also opens up the Polynesian recruiting for ASU. Jay Norvell, the new receivers coach and passing game coordinator, fits the same mold. The former Texas assistant coach is a longtime coach at the collegiate and professional level, and is known to be a good recruiter.
The number of departures from the program can scare many people. But this is how the business works.
Of course, Todd Graham lost his three best recruiters in Mike Norvell, Chip Long and especially Patrick Suddes. They were all vital parts of ASU recruiting system. However, many coaches can be efficient recruiters around the country and the latest hires are a perfect highlight of this situation. What matters most is the winning column.
After 20 wins split between 2013 and 2014, the Sun Devils could not close the 2015 season on the wining side and ended up with a disappointing 6-7 record. The offense experienced many issues to find its rhythm while the passing defense could not stop anybody, literally. Winning helps keeping a coaching staff content and together; loosing has the opposite effect.
More than being fatalistic about these these coaching changes, we must admit that a major coaching turnover is the right thing for Arizona State.
Status quo is the worse thing that can happen to a football team. The game evolves at an incredibly fast pace, and a team can be lost quickly if it does not look for improvement. In 2015, ASU has been a prime example. The team failed to adapt to the competition and the results are inked today with a 6-7 record. Todd Graham is now forced to implement a new system, especially with a major personal turnover on the field.
Talented players, promising coaches, reshaped system. This situation will benefit the Sun Devils, one way or another.