Arizona State Sun Devils Try to Cling to Mike Norvell with New Job Title

By Tyler Brett
mike norvell
Casey Sapio – USA TODAY Sports

Mike Norvell is an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks as a young coordinator with plenty of potential to lead his own program in the not-so-distant future. As the offensive coordinator for Todd Graham and Arizona State Sun Devils, he has only enhanced his stock as a coaching candidate and will undoubtedly being topping many coaching searches in the next several year. In an attempt to keep him in Tempe for as long as possible, ASU has given Norvell a new job title as the deputy head coach of the Sun Devils.

Norvell’s work speaks for itself. Since coming to ASU, he has turned the Sun Devils’ offense into the most prolific unit that the university has seen in 40 years. The 32-year old OC led an offense that has amassed over 12,000 yards and 1,000 point in his two seasons at the helm, which is the most in a two-year span at Arizona State since 1972-73. In 2013, ASU set a school record with six games of 50 points or more and finished No. 9 in college football in scoring offense and No. 29 in total offense. That explosive output helped ASU win 10 games this season and the Pac-12 South division title en route to a Holiday Bowl matchup with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

But what does the new title mean? In short: Not much. The change of title is likely an attempt by the school to keep Norvell in the program even when teams come calling with head coaching offers. It reeks of the same tactics of the “coach in waiting” ploy used by countless teams in an attempt to shelter their top assistants from getting poached by other programs with a job opening. At one point, Will Muschamp was named the “coach in waiting” for the Texas Longhorns for when Mack Brown stepped down but ultimately took a job with the Florida Gators before that happened.

In essence, this is the same kind of thing with a different name. To put it another way, when Michael Scott wanted to keep Dwight Schrute from leaving for another job on The Office, he bestowed upon him the title of Assistant to the Regional Manager. He gained no additional authority or pay but he did get to print up business cards. It’s a hollow gesture that sounds really good and important but is simply an attempt to keep a member of the team from striking out on their own. And yes, in this analogy Todd Graham is Michael Scott (which fits almost too perfectly).

So while it is a “promotion” in essence with a new job title and possibly an expanded role in media relations in addition to a nice pay raise (hopefully), it just confirms that Norvell is a hot commodity in the coaching ranks. ASU will hold onto him as long as they can to keep their offensive explosion in Tempe rolling but it is only a matter of time before the “deputy” head coach leaves to become a full-fledged head coach on his own.

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