Graham: Sun Devils won't change in wake of Norvell departure

Mike Norvell became the fourth former assistant coach of Todd Graham to accept a head job at the Division I level this week and Graham said Arizona State won't change even when a new offensive coordinator is hired.

Arizona State practiced on Friday for the first time since Todd Graham took over the program in 2012 without Mike Norvell coordinating the offense. 

Visually though, there weren't a lot of differences with the practice itself. Graham expects that'll remain the case even after he finds a replacement for Norvell, who accepted the head coaching job at Memphis a day earlier. 

"You hate to lose great people but for an opportunity like that it's awesome for them," Graham said. "We talked about those things, talked about moving forward, talked about winning this bowl game, talked about going to work, talked about today. Guys had a great spirit today, had great competition with the young guys out here. 

"The thing is, nothing's going to change here. What we do, what we believe in. We talked about that. What we do and how we do it is something we've been doing a long time and a philosophy and a belief in how we do it. We're going to be a run-play-action-pass team, we're always going to be and we just want to get better doing it."

Graham has no timeline for finding a replacement for Norvell, will look internally as well as outside the program, and said it doesn't have to be a coach who knows the existing offense's terminology and communication approach. 

"No, I wouldn't limit ourselves to anything like that," Graham said. "I can tell you this, it's an attractive situation. We've got a great group of young men and a great system I think a lot of people would be interested in. But no, we're going to get the best person that fits us and what we believe in and our believes and he'll be a great educator and great teacher and we'll see.

"Obviously it's a recruiting season and all that stuff. Whatever time it takes to find the right person within our staff or outside of our staff. Whatever that might be."

ASU will find out Sunday which bowl game it will play in, and Graham said he hasn't yet determined who will direct the offense for that appearance. 

"We'll work through that day by day, obviously (offensive line) coach (Chris) Thomsen and the rest of our offensive staff are well equipped and we can handle it," Graham said. "(Graduate assistant) Taylor (Kelly) will work with the quarterbacks until we kind of know how we're progressing."

The overriding sentiment from Graham was his satisfaction with Norvell's ascent a head coaching job and the reflection it has on his program. 

"I've got a joyful heart for him and his family," Graham said. "Our players are happy for him. That's my fourth one. That's my fourth assistant coach (to get a head coaching job). 10 years, I feel like that's a great compliment to our program. I've got coach (Gus) Malzahn down at Auburn, Chad (Morris) at SMU, David Beaty at Kansas and now Mike. Obviously we hate to lose Mike but i think it's a great compliment to our program. It's reflective of the job that our players have done. I told them today if Mike was here, he'd tell them that. He'll be back here hopefully to get a chance to talk to them. Those things happen really rapidly. We're happy for him and fired up for his family. That's what you want for all your guys, everybody has goals and aspirations. I want all of our guys to get drafted in the first round and go on and get great jobs and have great careers. It's personal to me because obviously we're very close but on the same hand I couldn't be more happy for him and Maria and Mila."

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