Arizona State Sun Devils

Getty Images

Frank Kush, winningest coach in Arizona State history, dies at age 88

1 Comment

The most famous head coach in the history of Arizona State athletics has passed.

The university confirmed Thursday that the legendary Frank Kush died earlier in the day of unknown causes.  He was 88 years old.

After finishing his collegiate playing career at Michigan State and a stint in the Army, Kush’s first job in coaching was as the line coach for the Sun Devils in 1955.  When Dan Devine left to become the head coach at Missouri in December of 1957, Kush was promoted to head coach.

Kush spent the next 21½ years as the head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 mark that included seven Western Athletic Conference championships.  The wins are the most in the football program’s history; in fact, he’s the only coach in the school’s history who has accumulated more than 60 wins during his time in Tempe.

From 1969-73, Kush’s ASU squads won five straight WAC titles.  They lost just six games total in that span against 51 wins.  In 1975, they went a 12-0, capping off the second perfect season under Kush with a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

In part because of Kush’s on-field success with the Sun Devils, ASU began play in the then-Pac-10 conference in 1978.

Kush’s tenure at the school ended in controversy, however, as he was fired in the middle of the 1979 season after a player accused the coach of mental and physical abuse in a September lawsuit.  The coach was ultimately fired because the university accused him of hindering the investigation into the allegations.

Pac-12 Networks president denies schools were promised revenues like Big Ten, SEC ventures

Getty Images
1 Comment

Ask any Pac-12 fan what their biggest source of frustration is right now and more likely than not ‘Pac-12 Networks‘ will be at, or near, the top of their list.

That can at times be the same response given by the league’s athletic directors as revenues from the venture fall further and further behind rivals like the uber-successful Big Ten Network and SEC Network. With those two leagues pushing conference payouts over the $50 million mark as soon as next year, the Pac-12 appears in danger of slipping further and further behind on the finance front.

Speaking to industry publication CableMax this weekPac-12 Networks’ outgoing president Lydia Murphy-Stephans understands that the balance sheet isn’t quite the same out West but parity with the two other conference networks was never something that was promised to schools when the channels were formed several years ago.

“There is a gap between what Pac-12 Networks delivers and the Big Ten Network and the SEC Network,” said Murphy-Stephans in a Q&A with the magazine. “What has to be factored in is the revenue specifically from Pac-12 Networks is only one part of the overall revenue each university receives from the Pac-12. I understand there is frustration, though no athletic director or administrator was ever told the Pac-12 Networks would deliver the same or more revenue than what its peer conferences are currently getting from their networks.

“I don’t think it’s fair in any way to call out Pac-12 Networks as the source of the deficiency the universities or maybe those particular athletic directors or administrators are citing.”

Not exactly the kind of comments that will thrill some around the Pac-12 when it comes time to pay for facility upgrades or to give a coach a raise but probably pretty on the nose as to what was said back when realignment was getting hot and heavy around the country. Murphy-Stephans is leaving her post in the not too distant future so it’s not like she will have to massage some of these comments with Pac-12 administrators like her boss Larry Scott will likely have to do in the coming days.

Report: Arizona State not extending Todd Graham’s contract as it had every year previously

Getty Images
3 Comments

Earlier this year, Kevin Sumlin‘s boss put the Texas A&M head coach squarely on the hot seat.  A few weeks later, Todd Graham‘s boss at Arizona State has seemingly done the same.

Every year that Graham has been at ASU, he’s received a one-year contract extension that kept him with five years left on his contract.  This year, however, ASU, for the first time, has not rolled his deal over another year, the Arizona Republic reports.

Graham’s current deal runs until June 20, 2021.

From the Republic‘s report:

ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson said a contract extension for Graham is not mandatory although his contract reads: “If grounds do not exist for termination for cause, ASU will ask the board to extend coach’s contract for one additional year following completion of the 2016 football season.”

Anderson said, “That’s not an automatic provision in the contract. It wasn’t rolled over because it didn’t need to be rolled over.”

Graham had no comment on the decision not to extend his contract.

In his first three seasons with the Sun Devils, Graham guided ASU to a combined record of 28-12, a total that included a pair of bowl wins as well as a Pac-12 South title in 2013.  The 10 wins in 2013 and 2014 was the first time the program had done that in back-to-back seasons since a four-year stretch from 1970-73.

However, a 6-7 2015 season gave way to a 5-7 2016 mark that led to talk of Graham possibly entering the 2017 season on hot seat.  With the decision eschew the annual contract extension, feel free to remove the word “possibly” from the previous sentence.

Houston adds transfers from A&M, Auburn, Arizona State, Miami

Getty Images
1 Comment

Major Applewhite‘s first roster at Houston will have a decidedly Power Five feel to it.

The football program announced Tuesday the addition of four transfers to the football team — wide receiver Ellis Jefferson (pictured) from Arizona State, offensive lineman Deon Mix from Auburn, defensive lineman Courtel Jenkins from Miami and defensive lineman Reggie Chevis from Texas A&M.

Jefferson, Mix and Chevis are all coming in as graduate transfers and are thus eligible to play in 2017 for the Cougars.  Jenkins will have to sit out the upcoming season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, and will then have one season of eligibility he can use in 2018.

A three-star 2013 signee, Jefferson took a redshirt as a true freshman. The next two seasons, the 6-4, 200-pound receiver showed promise as he caught a combined 23 passes for 304 yards in 2014 and 2015. He had a pair of receiving touchdowns for good measure.

His production dropped precipitously last season as he caught just two passes for 21 yards in 2016.  In mid-February, he announced his decision to transfer from the Sun Devils.

A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2013 recruiting class, Chevis was rated as the No. 39 inside linebacker in the country. He eventually moved to defensive tackle for the Aggies.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Chevis played in 17 games the past three seasons, with 13 of those appearances coming in 2016 ahead of his early-May transfer. The 6-1, 290-pound lineman was credited with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble this past season.

The 6-3, 301-pound Mix was a three-star 2013 recruit. He played in six games before deciding to transfer from The Plains, with three of those appearances coming last season.

The past three seasons, Jenkins, a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2014 recruiting class, appeared in 34 games.  He started seven of those contests, with all seven of those coming in 2015.

This past season, he was credited with 11 tackles in 10 games.  4.5 of those were tackles for loss, a total that was tied for 10th on the team.

In early February, The U announced that Jenkins had been dismissed for violating unspecified team rules.

Notre Dame announces signing of Arizona State grad transfer WR Cameron Smith

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not long after Notre Dame officially lost a transfer, the Fighting Irish officially landed one.

The Irish announced Monday evening that Cameron Smith will attend graduate school at the university and will play football for Brian Kelly’s squad.  As the wide receiver is coming in as a graduate transfer, he’ll have immediate eligibility.

The 2017 season will be his final year of eligibility.

Earlier this offseason, Smith opted to transfer from Arizona State.  During his time with the Sun Devils, the receiver started 18 of the 30 games in which he played.  He missed the entire 2015 season because of an injury.

During his three healthy years, Smith caught a combined 60 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns.  One of those touchdown receptions came in a November of 2014 ASU win over… Notre Dame.  That season was Smith’s best as he finished second on the team in receiving yards (596) and receiving touchdowns (six), while his 41 receptions were third.