TEMPE – On Sunday afternoon, still reeling from a devastating home loss to Eastern Michigan, Arizona State interim coach Shuan Aguano met with Ray Anderson, VP of University Athletics.
Aguano called the meeting a “passing of the torch” moment in the aftermath of the university’s agreement to part ways with former coach Herm Edwards earlier in the day. Disappointment and sadness from players and staff were quickly met with the reality that the program needed to move forward after a two-day whirlwind.
“My focus now is on the next nine games,” Aguano said Monday at his opening press conference. “How do I inspire these guys to play fast, physical football? That’s my number one. I gave them 24 hours to grieve, and then we got to get back to business.”
Reassigned from his role as ASU running backs coach to help pick up the pieces from a historically bad weekend – the Eagles earned the Mid-American Conference’s first victory over a Pac-12 team Saturday – an emotional Aguano said he’s grateful for the opportunity to elicit change. He fought back tears at times and even took a moment to apologize to reporters before continuing to speak.
“This opportunity is a dream for me, and all I can ask is for the opportunity. Now all I can do is try to put a product on the field that the Sun Devil Nation is proud of,” Aguano said. “You’ll get my heart and soul into this program.”
Starting quarterback Emory Jones said the team was not locked into the details in practice leading up to the Eastern Michigan game, which showed a lack of preparation in the loss. Aguano emphasized the need to pay attention to key details Monday and said he will lean on his coaching staff for support.
“To me, it’s about attention to detail. If it’s done wrong in practice, we’re going to make sure it’s done right,” Aguano said. “I think if we set that foundation now, it’s not going to be a miracle.”
Aguano was the second-longest tenured assistant coach, behind only special teams coach Shawn Slocum. He was hired by Edwards in 2019 as the running backs coach following four 6A titles and an 88-19 record as head coach at Chandler High School.
He coached ASU superstars N’Keal Harry and Chase Lucus at Chandler High and remains deeply rooted in Arizona. He believes his 27 years in Arizona will play a key factor in recruiting Arizona’s top gridiron talent to ASU.
“Having the right kids at Arizona State is number one. I will personally recruit Arizona kids. I know their coaches. I know what they are about. I know what the kids want,” Aguano said. “I’m in a position right now to make an impact on getting our kids in Arizona to be excited about Arizona State football.”
In addition to recruiting, Augano will wear the hats of a coach, counselor and administrative assistant and says he is ready to endure many sleepless nights due to the demanding schedule ahead.
Aguano, who’s a native of Kauai, holds the term “Ohana (family)” close to his heart. Along with building a competitive football team, he is also building a family.
“I want to ensure that I teach my kids and our kids to be successful fathers and successful citizens in society,” Aguano said. “That’s the most important.”
Aguano has a chance to solidify his position depending on the outcome of the remaining season, according to Anderson. Anderson anticipates the coaching search to be an “exhaustive search” due to the amount of interest in Sun Devils football and the program’s untapped potential. Plenty of names have been reported as potential candidates, but no clear frontrunner has emerged from the initial list of names that includes former Texas coach Tom Herman, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, among others.
“We will be looking for someone who is probably going to be a little more in tune with the evolving change in landscape and college athletics,” Anderson said. “Someone willing to take on additional change, because it will continue to change.”
Overall, this is the second time Anderson has had to “relinquish” the duties of a football coach as ASU athletic director. Anderson terminated Todd Graham in 2017 prior to hiring Edwards.
During his tenure, Edwards finished with a 46-26 record, including a 1-2 start to this season, and a 17-14 mark in the Pac-12. Anderson was in the media hot seat after he chose to keep Edwards on staff following an 8-5 season last year, the most games ASU had ever won in a season under Edwards.
ASU is currently in search of its first conference title since 2007. Can Aguano rally the troops and break the streak?
The Sun Devils get “back to business” Saturday to take on No. 13 Utah in Tempe.