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.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.