ASU alum Kenny Dillingham to lead school as youngest Power 5 head coach

Kenny Dillingham (Photo: Jason Fairchild, 247Sports)

Scottsdale native and Arizona State alumnus Kenny Dillingham is expected to leave his job as Oregon’s offensive coordinator to become ASU’s next head football coach, with an official announcement anticipated to come no later than Sunday, two people familiar with the development told Sun Devil Source.

Dillingham, 32, would become the youngest Power 5 head coach in the country by four years, overtaking his boss at Oregon, the 36-year-old Dan Lanning.

ASU is believed to have never previously had an alumnus as its head coach.

Dillingham would also be ASU’s first head coach without major college or professional-level head coaching experience since Larry Marmie was promoted from defensive coordinator to the top job in 1988.

The hiring would be a significant strategic departure for ASU President Michael Crow, who for the last two decades in his role has placed significant value on Power 5 and NFL head coaching experience.

Crow and ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson have faced withering criticism from the program’s boosters and media for their handling of the Sun Devils in the last 18 months in a still-unfolding NCAA investigation into recruiting practices under prior coach Herm Edwards and his staff.

Dillingham is a fan-favorite to fill the role on social media and message boards due to his local background and extensive understanding of Arizona high school football and ASU football. He coached at Scottsdale Chaparral starting as a student in 2007 through 2013, eventually rising to the role of offensive coordinator.

After earning his undergraduate degree at ASU, he served as an offensive graduate assistant under former coach Todd Graham in 2014 and 2015, where he worked closely with the school’s then-offensive coordinator, Mike Norvell.

When Norvell departed to take the Memphis head coaching job following the 2015 season, Dillingham went with him to be a graduate assistant in 2016. He then coached quarterbacks and tight ends in 2017 for the Tigers before becoming their quarterbacks’ coach and non-play- calling offensive coordinator in 2018.

Dillingham then spent one season in the same role at Auburn under then-coach Gus Malzahn before rejoining Norvell in 2020 at Florida State. He then left with Lanning — another former graduate assistant under Graham in 2012-13 — to become quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and play-caller for the first time at Oregon this season, where he is a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

As Memphis’ coordinator in 2018, Norvell’s offense ranked fourth in the country, averaging 523.1 yards per game, while setting program records in total yards (7,324) and rushing yards (3,919). The Tigers averaged 42.9 points per game with All-American running back Darrel Henderson and former ASU quarterback Brad White leading the charge.

At Auburn, he mentored current Oregon signal-caller Bo Nix during its SEC Freshman of the Year campaign. With Malzahn as the play-caller, Auburn had the league’s No. 3 scoring offense that season, averaging 33.2 points per game.

The Ducks are averaging 288.4 pass yards (fourth in the Pac-12) and 223.0 rush yards per game (second) with the conference’s second-ranked scoring offense, which has averaged 40.2 points per game.

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