Chances are that you did not know much about Kenny Dillingham until the last 48 hours. The 32 year old Phoenix native has rocketed from entry level college football gopher to head coach faster than most.
Don't let the lack of name recognition fool you; this was the right hire for Arizona State.
There are the obvious reasons why:
Dillingham is a Phoenix native, has intimate knowledge of the local high school scene and earned high marks for his work as Oregon's offensive coordinator this season.
The success of the hire goes a bit deeper than that, however.
In the old college football days, downtrodden programs like ASU would look to hire the best retread head coach with the most name brand recognition. Think Herm Edwards or Kevin Sumlin.
Now, programs that find themselves in a rut need to hire the best coach who knows that a tireless devotion to recruiting high school athletes and the transfer portal and the NIL scene is the only way out of their hole.
For many former head coaches who have seven or eight figure earnings in their past, they often look to take a lesser job because it might mean less expectations and work but still a healthy paycheck. They'll do less recruiting because most loathe it. The Sun Devils traded experience and name value for a tireless work ethic and hunger.
Some of the most successful recent hires in college football follow this pattern. Lincoln Riley replacing Bob Stoops before jumping to USC. Ryan Day took over for Urban Meyer and didn't miss a beat. Even Jedd Fisch at UofA validates this approach.
Arizona State didn't need a star head coach, thats how they got in this mess in the first place. They needed a worker bee and they got one in Kenny Dillinghame.