Arizona State Football: What to Expect in Kenny Dillingham’s 1st Season

Arizona State Football: What to Expect in Kenny Dillingham’s 1st Season
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The Arizona State Sun Devils made waves across the college football landscape Sunday, hiring Oregon offensive coordinator and Chandler native Kenny Dillingham as the school’s newest head coach.

Dillingham is the first Arizona-born coach in the school’s history and replaces Herm Edwards, who was fired in September after going 26-20 across five seasons in Tempe. 

Dillingham, a former ASU graduate assistant, is also the youngest coach at a “Power Five” school, at 32, and takes over the reins of a program that’s fresh off what might be its worst season in school history.  

The Sun Devils finished 2022 with the most losses in program history (9) and lost the Territorial Cup game to Arizona for the first time since 2016 in the team’s regular season finale, 38-35.

Now, Dillingham returns after spending the better part of seven years at Memphis, Auburn, Florida State and Oregon — where he worked his way up from being a graduate assistant to offensive coordinator.

For those interested in Arizona sports betting on the Sun Devils next season, BetArizona.com broke down how the past five ASU coaches have fared in their debut seasons.

How Last Five New ASU Coaches Have Fared

Herm Edwards

  • First year: 7-6 in 2018
  • Overall record: 26-20 in five seasons (fired in 2022)
  • Final Win Percentage: .565

Todd Graham

  • First year: 8-5 in 2012
  • Overall record: 46-32 in six seasons (fired in 2017)
  • Final Win Percentage: .590

Dennis Erickson

  • First year: 10-3 in 2007
  • Overall record: 31-31 in five seasons (fired in 2011)
  • Final Win Percentage: .500

Dirk Koetter

  • First year: 4-7 in 2001
  • Overall record: 40-34 in six seasons (fired in 2006)
  • Final Win Percentage: .541

Bruce Snyder

  • First year: 6-5 in 1992
  • Overall record: 58-45 in 9 seasons (fired in 2000)
  • Final Win Percentage: .563

Keep reading BetArizona.com throughout the year for all the Arizona sports betting promos.

Average is Name of Game in Year 1 at ASU

A glance at ASU’s recent history indicates those wagering on Arizona sports betting apps should manage expectations during Dillingham’s first season.

That’s because four of his five predecessors finished their first year in Tempe at or slightly above .500, though none of the five were able to find long-term stability.

The ASU coach with the best first-year record this century was Dennis Erickson, who finished the 2007 campaign 10-3, before going 21-28 in his next four seasons and wrapping up his tenure with a 31-31 record.

Both Todd Graham (2012) and Herm Edwards (2018) found decent levels of success in their debut seasons, with the former Pitt and Tulsa coach going 8-5, while the former NFL and ESPN personality went 7-6.

Other first-year results of note were Dirk Koetter’s 4-7 run in 2001 and Bruce Snyder’s 6-5 campaign in 1992.  

Of those four, Graham finished with the best final winning percentage at .590, while Edwards (.565), Snyder (.563), and Koetter (.541) all finished in the same ballpark.

Erickson was the only one to not wrap up his ASU tenure with an above-.500 record, joining Rudy Lavik (who coached the Sun Devils between 1933 and 1937) as the only coaches in Tempe to last more than one season with a final winning percentage of .500 or worse.

What’s a Realistic Expectation in Year 1

The Sun Devils have plenty of resources and recruiting access to compete with the sport’s upper echelon members, including Pac-12 conference mates USC, Oregon and Washington.

ASU has won more than 60% of its games dating back to its first season in 1897 and has 17 conference titles.

Dillingham’s first decision will be who he tabs to fill out his first coaching staff, and whether Dillingham will call his own plays or select someone else as the Sun Devils’ offensive coordinator.

ASU hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl since Jake Plummer and company did so in 1996. ASU has put up three 10-win seasons since 2007, doing so in 2007 (Erickson’s 1st season), 2013 (Graham’s 2nd in Tempe) and 2014.

Dillingham will have his choice of whether to hang with fourth-year quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who threw for 1,490 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior this fall, in the year ahead.

He’ll also have plenty of options to fill out the team’s roster, a la Lincoln Riley at USC, via the NCAA transfer portal.

If Dillingham can do any or all of those things between now and next August, then the Sun Devils could be poised for a return to prominence in 2023.

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Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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