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An Arizona State Perspective On Memphis Coach Mike Norvell

Memphis Tigers football coach Mike Norvell is introduced in Memphis
Memphis Tigers football coach Mike Norvell is introduced in Memphis
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday the Memphis coaching search officially came to a close.  Thursday night news was leaked of Mike Norvell being hired as the head coach for the University.  After a week of buildup there were plenty of names being thrown around as rumored potential replacements for Justin Fuente.

Mike Norvell's name never crossed many, none if we're being honest, Memphis fans minds.  Memphis didn't quite know what to expect from their new head coach outside of the fact that he is young.  Josh Nacion, ASU beat writer for House of Sparky, was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of his time and answer 5 quick questions in regard to the new Memphis coach:

1.  This hiring of Mike Norvell came together super quick.  In Memphis, information on the coaching search was very open with rumors swirling but went completely silent for 24 hours until President Rudd tweeted that Memphis had their man.  Was there any talk of Norvell and other jobs throughout the season or was this hire a shock for the Sun Devils?

This was a move that came out of nowhere. Arizona State was so quiet that I wrote this story the day before on ASU coaches staying put while everyone else was making personnel moves. He was speculated as a candidate at a couple schools but was never reported as anything serious. ASU fans really didn't think the offense didn't perform well enough to warrant Norvell a head-coaching job this offseason.


2.  Memphis has become used to a fast paces, high scoring type offense.  The offense, however, has been predicated on a run first and then throw over your head type passing game.  What can fans expect from a Mike Norvell offense?

Norvell will bring something similar. With Norvell as offensive coordinator, ASU branded its offense over the last four years as "high-octane," as it's a no-huddle, spread offense that revolves around play-action and zone read. It was hard to predict whether ASU wanted to throw or pass more, as Norvell never had a chance to start a quarterback that he and Todd Graham recruited the last four years.

3.  One of the common things I have been told in regard to Norvell and his style is "think Justin Fuente, but better recruiter."  I've also heard rumor that Chip Long, another guy with a great recruiting reputation, could follow Norvell to Memphis.  What type of player does Norvell excel at recruiting?

Norvell brought in a wide variety of great recruits to ASU, but he really likes bringing in dual-threat quarterbacks that could mold into his system. Norvell's ability to recruit is certainly the biggest loss for ASU out of all of this, and right now, Sun Devil Nation is staying cautious until Signing Day.


4.  If you surfed the internet over the past season you would read where (some) ASU fans were wanting Norvell fired.  At the end of the season the Sun Devils ranked in the top 25 of overall offense.  What caused this vocal minority to turn on him?

ASU had a senior quarterback in Mike Bercovici, who was a sensation last year when he came off the bench to replace last year's starting quarterback, Taylor Kelly, for two years. ASU's backfield is so crowded, it moved D.J. Foster — arguably the Sun Devils' most talented offensive player — to wideout. The offense severely dropped off this season, as Norvell's playcalling proved to be predictable, yet questionable and the Sun Devils struggled mightily in the red zone all year. The offense just didn't play anywhere near to its potential.


5.  National media has taken to twitter and raved over this hire.  Some media members have been saying for years to keep an eye on Mike Norvell.  This will be a softball question for you, but how do you feel Norvell will do in his career but most importantly his first head coaching job?

I think sky's the limit for Norvell. Todd Graham's coaching tree has been growing bigger with I believe seven former assistants now head coaches at FBS programs, including Gus Malzahn at Auburn. Norvell is young, recruits well and has an exciting system that I think many players will enjoy being in. Norvell could very well be another Malzahn.

It's way too early to say how Memphis will do in his first year, but I have no doubt Norvell will turn Memphis into a very likeable program that emphasizes character, if it isn't doing so already. Todd Graham completely changed the culture of ASU when he first arrived by preaching discipline and set lofty expectations, so I wouldn't be surprised if Norvell did the exact same.