Editor’s note: Eighth in a series previewing each team in the Pac-12.

Kenny Dillingham, the young prodigy, has returned home.

The first-year Arizona State coach attended Chaparral High in Scottsdale, located just 11 miles north of Sun Devil Stadium.

After various stops, including serving as Oregon’s offensive coordinator last season, Dillingham accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater (he graduated in 2012) and, at age 32, he’s the youngest head coach in the FBS. 

“It’s a dream. It’s unbelievable,” Dillingham told The Athletic. “You pull into this facility and you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ Every day. What can I do to do this for 30 years? The drive you get from wanting to be somewhere, living out what you’ve always wanted and knowing you can be somewhere forever? It’s hard to explain.”

Like many programs across the country, there have been a lot of comings and goings in the transfer portal at Arizona State. 

One of the most high-profile additions is quarterback Drew Pyne, a Notre Dame transfer. 

Related
Pac-12 previews: Is this the season Arizona returns to a bowl game?
Why Washington State is expected to be pass-happy again
How quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is leading resurgent Washington
Why the climb back to relevancy for Stanford football could prove to be difficult
Will high-profile Clemson transfer give Oregon State’s offense a big boost?
What will Oregon’s Bo Nix do for an encore?
Is Cal coach Justin Wilcox on the hot seat?

With the Fighting Irish last season, Pyne completed 66.5% of his passes for 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He owned a quarterback rating of 155.3, which was No. 20 in the nation. 

“I just love being able to be in a room with him and talk football,” Pyne said about Dillingham. “He can explain something to anybody in about five minutes about a certain look in the run game, or in the pass game, or what to check, and they would understand it. His brain is so geared for football.”

Dillingham is overhauling the roster, seeking help for a team that went 3-9 last fall. 

“Not every player we bring in is supposed to make an immediate impact. Due to the situation we were in where our scholarships were allocated when we got here in terms of not having a lot of guys in the 2022 freshman class, we have to balance our roster with enough youth,” he said. “You can’t play 60 guys. So if you bring in 60 guys and anticipate those to start it will be hard for your culture to really wrap around that. You have to be honest with the guys you’re recruiting and have to build enough youth in there that it’s not 60 guys that are ready to play yet. You can stagger your roster. We’re in the process of trying to do that.”

A big part of Dillingham’s job is reaching out to ASU fans that were turned off by former coach Herm Edwards.

“I got to get out. I have to be seen. I have to meet with donors, go on campus more and meet with people in different parts of the building. This is year one,” Dillingham told AZcentral.com. “This is not year four, year 10 here where this time of year it will be me fine-tuning my handicap in golf. This is year one. So I have to put boots on the ground in places and I have to do a self evaluation offensively and defensively about where we stand and what we’re going to be good at.”

2022 record: 3-9 (2-7 Pac-12)

Utah ties

None

2023 schedule

  • Aug. 31 Southern Utah
  • Sept. 9 Oklahoma State
  • Sept. 16 Fresno State
  • Sept. 23 USC
  • Sept. 30 @California
  • Oct. 7  Colorado
  • Oct. 21  @Washington
  • Oct. 28 Washington State
  • Nov. 4 @Utah
  • Nov. 11 @UCLA
  • Nov. 18 Oregon
  • Nov. 26 Arizona