Arizona State hires Kenny Dillingham: Oregon offensive coordinator becomes youngest coach in Power Five


The state of Arizona has hired Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham as its next football coach, the school announced Sunday. Dillingham, an Arizona State alumnus, has overseen a Ducks offense that has produced one of the most prolific units in the nation this season, averaging 511.2 yards per game (No. 3 in the FBS) , 7.07 yards per game (No. 5 in the FBS) and 40.2 points per game (No. 4 in the FBS).

Dillingham is taking over the program after Arizona State fired Herm Edwards earlier this season amid a 1-2 start and an ongoing NCAA investigation into illegal recruiting practices during the COVID-19 dead period.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be named head coach of Arizona State University,” said Dillingham. “This is a special place for myself and my wife, who also graduated from college. I truly believe that the team we will build here is one that the state of Arizona and all Sun Devils can stand behind and be proud of, as it will take everyone up the valley to help this program achieve the level of success it deserves. I look forward to getting to work and promise that no one will work harder than the staff we will put together.”

Although Dillingham is only 32 years old, he hails from Scottsdale and has risen quickly through the coaching ranks thanks to his high school start in Arizona at a young age. He graduated from Arizona State in 2012 and was hired by then-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell in 2014 as an offensive staffer for the Sun Devils. 21) with a one-year stop at Auburn in between.

When Oregon coach Dan Lanning arrived as Ducks coach in December 2021, he quickly transitioned to bring Dillingham on board, knowing his expertise as a former associate from their time together in Memphis. The same reasons Dillingham was such an attractive candidate for the Ducks to retire to the Pac-12 as offensive coordinator also apply to the Sun Devils, who will now turn their program over to a native son amid a much– need reboot.

“We are proud to announce Kenny Dillingham as our new head football coach,” said athletic director Ray Anderson. “He brings the energy, knowledge and appreciation of our state and university that is valued by all of us,” Anderson said. “His knowledge of the current college football landscape, learned through coaching across the country, is needed and desired at ASU. He will care at the highest level about our state, our alumni, our former players and every group important to help. win us over. We look forward to working with him and all of the Sun Devils to make his staff successful and help our program achieve our goals.”

Youth movement in Tempe

Dillingham becomes the youngest active Power Five coach. Interestingly enough, he takes over that title from Lanning, who was the youngest power conference coach in 2022 at age 36. .

He is the fifth head coach appointment for the Sun Devils since 2001, and is an outlier in both age and experience compared to the previous four. Dennis Erickson (2007-11) and Edwards (2018-22) brought extensive coaching track records as well as years of experience. Although both Dirk Koetter (2001-2006) and Todd Graham (2012-2017) were only in their 40s when they arrived, the CV still contained a few references.

But where Dillingham makes up for that apparent lack of experience is in the support he provides within the ASU community. Coaching high school football in Scottsdale for more than half a decade has given Dillingham connections that helped secure this opportunity, and Sun Devils fans hope it will be a spark to move the program forward.

NCAA investigation continues

The NCAA is still investigating the Arizona State football program for alleged violations that occurred during the 2020 offseason. Even before Edwards’ firing, the program saw multiple assistants either fired or resigned as a result of the program’s illegal recruiting practices during the dead period of COVID-19. The ongoing investigation hangs like a cloud over the program’s future, and Dillingham and his staff may have to endure some of the fallout.

By investing in someone like Dillingham, who takes his first job but also has extensive experience in the area, Arizona State would play the long game and hope that a native son can lead the program out of the storm into a brighter future.

Ability to advance in the Pac-12

With USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is about to see a shake-up in the conference’s supposed pecking order. These types of realignment moves can provide programs with a chance to jump up and gain new status within the conference hierarchy, and while divisions will dissipate, it’s entirely possible that Arizona State could become the strongest presence in the South.

Arizona’s demographics and the Sun Devils’ recruiting base have improved high school football in the state, and Dillingham’s experience from that circuit should allow the program to win some of those battles, even against their new Big Ten league. As Oregon and Washington battle for supremacy in the Northwest, the door is open for Arizona State, a program with just three Pac-12 championships to its credit, to become one of the regular contenders in the conference.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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