Mcginnis Best Choice As Next Sun Devil Coach


Arizona State University Athletic Director Lisa Love has not called me to ask who Dirk Koetter's replacement as Sun Devil football coach should be. I won't hold my breath awaiting the call.

But, there's a name being tossed around who could be the motivator, recruiter, tactician and experienced head coach Love needs.

It's Dave McGinnis, now the Tennessee Titans assistant head coach.

Sure, there will be those detractors who point to his four-season tenure as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals as a miserable failure. His overall record with the Cardinals was 17-40 and he was fired a day after Arizona completed the 2003 season with a 4-12 record.

But consider this: No coach ever did more with less.

The Arizona Cardinals are, and have always been, a woeful franchise that has been to the playoffs once in the past 50 years.

The Arizona coaching staff could consist of Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler, Bobby Bowden and Frank Kush and the Cards would still find a way to lose. During his stay in Arizona, McGinnis was in a no-win situation, but still managed to field competitive teams that played with fire and determination.

McGinnis, probably realizing his team didn't sport the same quality athletes of other NFL squads, once said, "I don't care how much talent you have -- if you play with heart and passion and believe in what you're doing, you have a chance."

Anyone who heard McGinnis deliver his power-packed eulogy of Pat Tillman on a warm sunny day in Sun Devil Stadium, knows he speaks with conviction, passion and confidence.

He's the kind of coach moms and dads would welcome into their living room to recruit their sons. He's also the type of man parents would trust to guide their sons during the most formative years of their young lives. McGinnis talks with a down home, Southern twang and sincerity that reminds many longtime ASU sports fans of former Sun Devil baseball coach Bobby Winkles.

He also has the ability to sell confidence and enthusiasm to a Sun Devil team and state that has not had either since Frank Kush departed the school in the 1970s.

It's also rumored that if Love decides on McGinnis as Koetter's replacement, the new coach might bring Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow along with him. Chow held a similar position at USC when Love worked for the university.

Chow is widely considered one of the premier offensive coordinators in pro and collegiate football.

Among the quarterbacks he's coached are Matt Leinhart, Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Carson Palmer. Prior to McGinnis becoming Arizona head coach in 2000, he was defensive coordinator from 1996-2000. He also spent 10 seasons as linebackers' coach for the Chicago Bears working with such outstanding players as Mike Singletary. In addition to his pro experience, McGinnis spent the first 13 years of his career in the college ranks. He started as a graduate assistant at his Texas Christian alma mater before becoming a defensive backs coach at Missouri, Indiana State and TCU. He also served three seasons as defensive ends/linebackers coach at Kansas State.

Love has said about her search for a new coach, "I am attracted to people who have a rather powerful profile."

Dave McGinnis has just that.

Big time jolt

If there's a coach in the ASU program who took a hit by Koetter's firing, it's 54-year-old running backs coach John Wrenn. At this time last year, Wrenn had a 91-11 record at Chandler Hamilton High School and had led the team to two Class 5A state crowns.

Last winter, he accepted an offer to join the ASU football coaching staff. Now, he finds himself without a job and clutching a collegiate resume that features only one year of experience on a 7-5 team.

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