Arizona State Hires Bobby Hurley

A brief history of inexperienced coaches taking Pac-12 jobs:

  • Jay John –  Oregon State
    • Experience – 0 seasons
    • Success – 5+ seasons, 72-97, 0 NCAAs
  • Todd Bozeman – California
    • Expeirence – 0 seasons
    • Success – 4 seasons, 63-35, 3 NCAAs, lots of asterisks
  • Steve Lavin – UCLA
    • Experience – 0 seasons
    • Success – 7 seasons, 145-78, 6 NCAAs
  • Tony Bennett – WSU
    • Experience – 0 seasons
    • Success – 3 seasons, 69-33, 3 NCAAs
  • Johnny Dawkins – Stanford
    • Experience – 0 seasons
    • Success – 7 seasons, 141-100, 1 NCAA
  • Tad Boyle – Colorado
    • Experience – 4 seasons, 46-56, 0 NCAA
    • Success – 5 seasons, 108-67, 3 NCAAs
  • Andy Enfield – USC
    • Experience – 2 seasons, 41-28, 1 NCAA
    • Success – 2 seasons, 23-41, 0 NCAA
  • Bobby Hurley – Arizona State
    • Experience – 2 seasons, 42-20, 1 NCAA
    • Success – ???????????

The old Duke star’s hiring at ASU naturally raises a few questions. We can get to those in a minute. The first point I’d like to make is that – in looking at the list above – there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming history of success for new-ish coaches in the Pac-12. Of course this is a power conference and generally not grounds for trial by fire. With a better research department I could expand this to all Power Conferences but we’ll have to just assume similar results (but how good is Tony Bennet, amiright Pullman??).

Enter, however, Bobby Hurley and his two seasons of experience and one NCAA tournament with the University of Buffalo. We can’t necessarily conclude anything from that list – there are unique circumstances to each case – which leads us to question number one:

Is ASU’s hire of Bobby Hurley a good one?

Yes. Considering that ASU nearly botched all of this as they waited out Jeff Capel and that they have now fired their last three retreads which include Coaches of the Year from the SEC, ACC, and B1G, getting what seems to have been their #2 option is worth celebrating. But I like the hire of ASU because it’s a different look. The retreads of the past weren’t necessarily working. It’s a new guy with a history of only winning. I could dive into the cliches of ‘young and hungry’ but that will have to go without saying. Change is the reason that Bobby Hurley is now the coach in Tempe and he’s a change from the ways in which the Sun Devils have previously done business. He brings basketball name recognition, a championship pedigree, and life from behind the Curtain.

Is ASU a good job for Bobby Hurley?

Sure. I think Hurley sees this as a stepping stone. It has the allure of a Power Five and likely a nice payday. The history we’ve mentioned means that no matter how “elite” athletic director Ray Anderson wants his basketball program to be, I see Hurley as settling into a six-year plan (with a five year contract, the most the Arizona Board of Regents allows). He has six seasons to achieve two NCAA tournaments – preferably with year six being his most successful – and then jump ship. This isn’t a bad thing. It’ll be mutually beneficial. But now let’s consider that no coach has done anything of the sort at Arizona State. Why would Hurley – who likely presumes himself the heir to Kryzezewski – take a job with no history of success?

For starters, there’s really nothing to start with, at least from a program perspective. Two NCAA tournaments in nine years was nearly enough to keep Herb Sendek around. Expectations are low at ASU but not necessarily for Hurley. That’s good.

Then there’s also the fact that Hurley is inheriting what I view as a pretty decent roster. He has a formidable front court in Jacobsen and Goodman with an All-Freshman point guard in Tra Holder. There are nice pieces here.

Now let’s take a macro view of things: Conference health. We know it’s bad. The Pac was fortunate to have four teams dancing this year with no one particularly trending towards better (nationally speaking) in 2015-16. So looking at the state of the Pac, Hurley is jumping into what amounts to a pretty good situation at Arizona State. His roster immediately makes him better than WSU, USC, and Washington. Colorado and Stanford are trending down and Johnny Dawkins is on what appears to be a warming seat. Coaching turnover will only help Hurley’s situation (and so I’m also looking at you, Washington). I suppose ASU can concede spots to Utah, UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona; but in a given year they really just need to hold court against one or two of the aforementioned ‘elite’ schools.

Hurley most definitely has the opportunity to be a better version of what we have generally expected from Andy Enfield and USC. Their resumes have many parallels but the new ASU lead has the distinct advantage of not inheriting a rock bottom roster.

There is, of course, the cases of Wayne Tinkle and Cuonzo Martin, two situations we really have no grasp on right now. But that’s all a part of the gamble.

The one other potential positive to this move is shoes. Yes he’ll be moving to the desert and need to check his shoes for critters like scorpions but that is not my point. My point is that ASU has recently made the move to Adidas. This makes ASU the second most powerful Adidas (basketball) brand on this coast. I don’t know the details of how these things work but I see significance in this relationship. Hurley is joining a new coast and could use all the help he can get. The historical demons of Sun Demon basketball may already prove hurdle enough, shoe competition does not need to be another one.

All-in-all, the situation looks ripe for Hurley to be successful in some way. And whether or not this is a stepping stone for him, his success is the only means to evaluate the merits of this hire.

With change comes risk and I can appreciate that ASU took a little more risk this time around.

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