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No shortage of potential candidates for ASU head coaching job — including a former Utah head coach

There’s plenty of buzz here about who might be hired to become the next ASU head coach, including former Ute assistant Kalani Sitake

SHARE No shortage of potential candidates for ASU head coaching job — including a former Utah head coach
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Utah football coaches Urban Meyer, left, and Kyle Whittingham talk with the media Dec. 31, 2004, in Scottsdale, Ariz., leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

TEMPE, Ariz. — Heading into Saturday night’s game against No. 13 Utah, Arizona State’s first contest since head coach Herm Edwards was fired a week ago, interim head coach Shaun Aguano met with the media and penned an open letter to Sun Devil fans.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of buzz here about who might be hired to become the next ASU head coach.

The potential candidates’ names being tossed around include USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch; Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham; Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien; Texas assistant Gary Patterson; UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor; and former Utah/Florida/Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer

Another frequently mentioned name is BYU coach Kalani Sitake, who served as a Utah assistant from 2005-2014. 

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports wrote that Sitake, who was a candidate for the Oregon job a year ago, might take a hard look at an offer from ASU. 

“This is a well-respected program that’s headed to the Big 12 next season, so this is not exactly about Sitake jumping to a Power Five job. But unless BYU throws a blank check at him, Arizona State might be hard to turn down,” Crawford wrote.

“Like most head coaches, Sitake likely knows when to get out, too. This year’s team might be his best with the Cougars after consecutive seasons with double-digit wins and prior to (last week’s) loss to Oregon, BYU looked like a squad that was capable of getting to the New Year’s Six. With Arkansas and Notre Dame still left on the schedule, it’ll be interesting to see how far Sitake takes the Cougars before potentially making a decision on his coaching future at the program.”

Wrote ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg: “Before the Big 12 added BYU, Sitake certainly would look at a job like Arizona State as an obvious upgrade. Now it’s not as clear-cut. BYU has rewarded Sitake with more salary and security, and the Cougars’ program is rolling as it nears entry into the Big 12 in 2023.

“Sitake, 46, would be an absolute steal for ASU. He’s 23-5 since the start of the 2020 season and would bring a tough-minded identity and stability to the program that fans would appreciate. Sitake also has recruited the region for his entire career.”

With all this speculation going on, Aguano solicited support from Sun Devil fans this week. 

“We all have our own Sun Devil story. We all have a reason that brought us to this ‘family.’ It’s the common denominator for why we feel the way that we do after both the highs and the lows. When things are good, sometimes it’s hard to imagine you’d want to celebrate with anyone but the members of your family,” Aguano wrote. “Sometimes, families fight. Every family does. But the strongest families are the ones that can come back together and support and love each other, regardless of their disagreements. 

“We are the Sun Devil Family. I am proud to be a part of this family. The young men on this football team are my family. My fellow coaches and staff members are my family. Our alumni are my family. Every student-athlete in this athletic department is my family. Every trainer, every coach, every administrator. Every fan that walks into Sun Devil Stadium on Saturdays to watch these young men is my family. Every donor and supporter and fan who invests their hard-earned money into this program because being a Sun Devil means something to them — they are part of my family.”

Will Aguano be leading the ASU family after this season? Or maybe it will be someone like Sitake, Grinch or Dillingham.