Aguano tasked with taking Arizona State in a new direction

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TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State ended the Herm Edwards experiment a day after an ugly home loss.

The Sun Devils are hoping the change will help them straighten out a season that still has nine games left.

At the helm of this transition will be interim coach Shaun Aguano, ASU’s former running backs coach who has deep ties to football in the Grand Canyon State.

“This opportunity, on the grand scale of things, is a dream for me and all I can ask is for the opportunity,” Aguano said Monday. “What can I do with this opportunity the next nine games is to try to put a product on the field that Sun Devil nation is proud of and I’m going to do my best.”

Arizona State took a chance with hiring Edwards in 2017, handing the reins to a former NFL coach who spent the previous nine years in a TV studio and had not coached in college for 33 years.

Edwards dodged a firing last season despite some shaky losses and a looming NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations. When it became apparent Edwards was not going to turn the program around quickly enough, athletic director Ray Anderson fired him Sunday, less than 24 hours after a disheartening 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan.

Anderson expressed optimism the season could be saved, even with a gauntlet of No. 13 Utah, No. 7 Southern California and No. 18 Washington next on the schedule.

Aguano will man the rudder through what could be difficult waters.

Born and raised in Kapaa, Hawaii, Aguano was one of the most decorated high school coaches in Arizona history, leading Chandler High to four state 6A titles. Aguano joined Edwards’ staff in 2019, helping turn the Sun Devils into one of the nation’s top rushing teams.

Now he gets to run a program he’s watched or been a part of for more than two decades.

“I’ll give my heart and soul to this program,” Aguano said, choking back tears. “I don’t take this lightly. I’ve been here 20-something years and know what this means. I know this landscape. My kids are Arizona kids. This means a lot to me, means a lot to my family.”

Agauno’s task will be to right a team that’s had trouble getting out of its own way.

Arizona State was one of the nation’s most penalized teams last season and has been plagued by inopportune miscues this year. The Sun Devils opened the season with an easy win over FCS opponent Northern Arizona, but faded late in a loss to No. 9 Oklahoma State.

Arizona State fell flat against Eastern Michigan on Saturday night, giving up 458 total yards while being penalized nine times for 84 yards to become the first Pac-12 school to lose to a Mid-American Conference school.

“To me, it’s attention to detail,” Aguano said. “I had a meeting with the coaches and we are not going to let anything slip by. If it’s done wrong in practice, we’re going to make sure it’s done right, set that foundation for these kids. It’s not going to be a miracle, but it’s going to be changed.”

The next nine games will serve as an audition for Aguano, whom Anderson said will be considered for the full-time job.

Anderson made a calculated gamble when he hired Edwards, hoping the loquacious coach would be the right person to helm the program’s NFL-like model.

Arizona State’s next coach Will Likely be someone better equipped to navigate a wild new era of college athletics, from NIL to the rapidly expanding transfer portal and conference realignment.

“We will be looking to have a fit with someone who is going to probably be a little more in-tuned with the evolving change and landscape in college athletics,” Anderson said. “It’s changing rapidly, and you got to have someone who is willing to take all that additional change on because it’s going to continue to change.”

Arizona State has already gone through one big change. Aguano is looking to make the most of it.

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:


The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.


The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.


The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.


The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.


After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.

CFP expansion talks head toward October after 7-hour meeting

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — The conference commissioners who manage the College Football Playoff met for almost seven hours Tuesday to work on expanding the postseason system from four to 12 teams as soon as the 2024 season.

There is still much work to be done.

“We will not wrap up this week,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said.

The CFP management committee, comprised of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, is scheduled to convene again at the Big Ten offices for a few hours Wednesday morning. They are set to meet again in person in Dallas on Oct. 20.

“That’ll be important,” Hancock said.

Expansion talks were revived by the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the College Football Playoff last month.

By adopting a 12-team plan that had been on the table since the spring of 2021, the presidents pushed the commissioners to try to implement a new format before the end of the CFP’s current contract with ESPN. That deal ends after the 2025 season.

Expanding from four to 12 in 2024 and ’25 will require rescheduling semifinals and championship games that already have dates and sites set, plus adding four new first-round games in mid-December to be played on campus sites.

Squeezing it all into about a month and working around the NFL for television will be challenging.

Hancock said the idea of moving up the start of the college football season to the week before Labor Day to create more room at the end for the playoff has been discussed, but more for beyond the 2025 season.

“I think most people view that as a future item. As long-term item and not an immediacy item,” Hancock said. “Remember, there’s so many details.”

Hancock said CFP officials have spoken to bowl partners and hosts cities that are set to hold semifinals and championship games after the 2024 and ’25 seasons, but they have not been presented definitive new dates.

Atlanta already has been chosen as the host city for the championship game to be played following the 2024 season, on Jan. 6, 2025. The game would have to be pushed back about two weeks if the playoff grows from four teams to 12.

“(Atlanta organizers) have some work to do because of other businesses in the community,” Hancock said. “Other meeting-type business, hotel business and Convention Center business there. They’ve been great to work with.”