SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
8/21/2006 12:39:00 PM
Dunce Cap for Dirk
Dirk Koetter's unbelievable indecisiveness could end up hurting Arizona State for years to come.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
In last week's Mailbag, I said I didn't think Arizona State's high-profile quarterback competition between Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter would become a distraction. But that was before head coach Dirk Koetter botched his handling of the decision worse than I ever could have imagined.
Following a scrimmage Friday night, Koetter announced that Keller, who threw for 2,071 yards in seven games last year prior to a season-ending injury, would be this year's starter. No real surprise there. Less than 48 hours later, however, Koetter reversed field Sunday and gave the job to sophomore Carpenter, last year's national pass efficiency leader. Keller, not surprisingly, is now looking to transfer. "It's simple," said Koetter. "I made a mistake on the quarterback situation and I'm changing my mind."
You made a mistake?? Between spring ball and fall camp, Koetter had more than 30 practices to evaluate his quarterbacks. He's seen plenty of both in game action. What could possibly have transpired in a 48-hour span to change his mind? Well, apparently he had a sit-down with 16 of his veteran leaders on Saturday and was surprised to find out his players don't have nearly the same respect for Keller as their coach. At least that's what we can surmise, because it was the meeting, not film evaluation or scrimmage performances, that caused Koetter to pull a 180. According to Arizona Republic columnist Paola Boivin, "Whatever issues [Koetter's] players brought up to him had to do with issues off the field."
Mind-numbing. That's the only way I can describe this. In the span of 48 hours, Koetter went from having one of the greatest coaching luxuries imaginable -- two quarterbacks capable of starting anywhere in the country -- to one colossal nightmare, all because he was apparently completely out of touch with the climate in his own locker room. "He's not a psychic," senior receiver Terry Richardson said in defending his coach. "… He doesn't know everything going on with the team, what it's feeling. I think his move was a smart move."
Koetter has been a divisive figure throughout his six-year tenure in Tempe -- many feel he should have been fired last year after it was revealed he failed to heed warning signs about troubled running back Loren Wade prior to the player's murder arrest in the shooting death of former Sun Devil Brandon Falkner -- and following this snafu, he's officially on thin ice. As is usually the case with these things, all will be forgotten if ASU makes a run at the Pac-10 title. But if Keller bolts and Carpenter struggles, or if the Sun Devils implode like they did last season, you better believe his bizarre reversal will become a season-long storyline.
Once again, Koetter has shown us why my alma mater's football program under his "leadership" will never be more than an "also-ran". I'm only happy that now the rest of the college football world can witness the incompetence we have had to deal with since Koetter's hiring. A .425 winning percentage in the Pac-10 is unexcusable, yet the Koetter apologists will be out in force to defend him, while the rest of the college football world just shakes it's head in disbelief at his incompetence.
The handling of this situation, to be mild, could have been better. However, I think that Rudy Carpenter is the better choice as a starting QB. If the two are evenly matched (and at the very least, they're extremely close), then by all means the Sophmore, who can help your team for 3 more years, should be the starter.
I'm also a big fan of taking care of the football, and while Keller has a flair for the big play, Carpenter last year didn't throw the ball to the other team.
Keller is better off, asu is going nowhere as long as usc and cal are in the pac 10 for the next few years, he should try and transfer to school where he can get a good senior year like oklahoma who is need of a quarterback next year or south carolina or hawaii where he will put up enormous numbers with his big arm/
Who is running this team? It sure isn't Koetter. I don't have an issue if this meeting with team leaders came about before he picked the starter. Sure, that can influence Koetter's decision, but after the fact? Carpenter's roomate led this discussion with Koetter and has now caused a mutiny within this team. Now Sun Devil fans can look forward to being just as pathetic as the lowly U of A. Way to go Koettervich! Dirk needs to be fired immediately. Get a coach with a backbone and some passion coaching this team. ASU has the best facilities in the nation, great weather, and I don't even need to mention the off field talent. If he is not gone soon, then Sun Devil fans have years of horrible football to digest. (See, University of Arizona)
P.S. Lisa Love (A.D. of Arizona State), take the financial hit and let Koetter go. He only has two years left. If he's there for that duration, you may see Sun Devil Stadium as empty as ever, and I don't think that would be good for your career.
Stuart, that was a total cheap shot to include the Loren Wade story, which really has nothing to do with anything. No coach could have stopped that incident from happening. That's like saying everything Maurice Clarett does for the rest of his life should have been prevented by Jim Tressel.
At the very least, there are three incredibly foolish people at the center of this story:
*Sam Keller, who is apparently so despised by some of his teammates that they refuse to play with him.
*Rudy Carpenter, who is so childish that he threatened to transfer becuase he didn't win the starting job. Apparently holding your breath until you pass out isn't the best way to get daddy's attention after all.
*Dirk Koetter, who is so out of touch with his players that he chose the guy the team apparently can't stand to start at quarterback. If he's so out of touch with his players, why is he a college coach? This gaffe does nothing but divert the team's attention and hurt recruiting for years to come. This may be the end of the line for Dirk Koetter in Tempe, and it's a shame considering the talent on this team. With the right coach, the Sun Devils could challenge for a BCS bowl. Instead they've been relegated to a side show.
So the University of California at Tempe has an idiot for a coach.... since when are coaches working on cures for cancer in their off-time? I bet Sam Keller laces it up on Sunday a helluva lot more in the future than "little Rudy"
I am an ASU graduate and care very much about the team. The ASU campus is beautiful, the weather is top-notch, and the woman are the best-looking on any campus in the country. There is no reason for ASU not to be a perennial top-15 team. Koetter has been a disaster, and this clinches it for me. He has got to go.
I'm not surprised at all. This is completely consistent with the state of Sun Devil Athletics. Their basketball team sucks, their football team will continue to take a nose dive and then teams just south down I-10 will dominate them year after year.
Lisa Love should do as Livengood did at Arizona, cut your losses and move on.
I don't know much about the situation at ASU or the PAC 10 except USC, Cal, and Oregon are the contenders this year, but Koetter's handling of the QB situation is atrocious. The fact that his players had to tell him about their reservations for Keller shows that he has know idea what's going on with his team. He probably has know desire to shape them as men and be a positive influence in their lives.
My team on the other hand (Georgia Bulldawgs) has a coach with a similar QB situation, but he handled it with much more grace. Coach Mark Richt is outspoken in his desire to shape his players in to leaders and to represent the University of Georgia with the utmost dignity. It's interesting that ASU and UGA will be playing each other in 2008 and 2009. I hope that ASU shape ups by then. I'd hate for us to go all the way out to Arizona just to play a crappy team.
It is very hard for anyone who did not play a college level sport to understand the dilemma of starting an underclassman vs. a senior. The decision is very difficult even when the 2 athletes aren't so evenly matched. Clearly, Koetter went against his gut decision originally, and it didn't sit well with him. Yes, it's easy to say coaches should be completely objective in their decision-making, but when is that ever really possible? Good for him for listening to others' opinions and his own, and reversing the mistake.
This disgusted me when I heard it. A leader considers all his options BEFORE he makes a final decision-not after!!! The credibility of the coach and even the other players is now nil. I feel for Keller. Here he is given a great honor for his senior year, then has it ripped right out from under him, AFTER there is a team meeting. Now, not only does he not have the job, but he must feel so left out of his team. How awful of that coach to make someone feel like that. He shouldn't have to leave, but he might as well because his coach and team have now made him feel unwelcome-nice job! And I'm not even a Devils' fan; I actually root for the Wildcats, and now I have an even better reason to dislike the Sundevils and their incompetent leader.
It's obvious Koetter is covering up for something that happened behind closed doors. He knows this makes him look like an idiot, but he is taking the heat away from his quarterbacks. He wouldn't have conferred with the AD and other staff members if it were a typical QB change.
Mandel, this is a terribly written article. You approached it completely negatively. What about the fact that Koetter said that they were even throughout the spring and fall camps, and he chose Keller mostly because he was a senior? And watching the local news last night, KOETTER was the one who called the meeting of the veteran leaders. He also called his coaching staff and Athletic Director first thing Saturday morning after not being able to sleep the night before. The fact that Carpenter out performed Keller in the final scrimmage on Friday night probably really made Koetter rethink his decision. I'm a die hard ASU fan, and not fond of Koetter, but I do think that Carpenter is the right guy for the job and respect how Koetter owned up to the heat that he is sure to take. Carpenter was childish in threatening to transfer when he still had his junior and senior seasons ahead of him, but Keller's ego and attitude on and of the field make his teammates weary about playing with him. Clearly the team will be happier about this since Koetter talked to the players, coaches, and AD and all were saying that they thought Carpenter should play. So after the Koetter goof, the players are happy, the coaches are happy, the AD is happy, and most of he fans are happy to see Carpetner starting. The only one who understandably is not happy is Keller.
Well, I am an ASU alum, and the Koetter situation has certainly left one wondering what is going on in his office and his staff. The QB situation was certainly not handled well. Worse than his QB situation, is his defense, and his leadership in this area has an even worse track record. He needs a high-priofile defensive coordinator with NFL ties to help recruit the best kids on that side of the ball, too. I believe Koetter can still do well at ASU. He simply needs to re-focus the team to what lies ahead of them this year. I also wish Sam Keller the very best as he was given the short end of the stick onthis one. Hopefully he can land at Oklahoma and help Coach Stoops run the table next season.
Koetter is a classless, spineless clown. What is he going to do, poll the players to see if they agree with all his decisions? Guys call a timeout, so we can vote on the next play? Carepenter will probably turn out to be a better player, but the way Koetter has handled this is awfull. Why didn't he poll the team before announcing a starter if it's that big of a deal? It creates the impression he has no clue. But on behalf of the University of Colorado, we would welcome Sam Keller with open arms. I know, maybe a pipe dream, but his old qb's coach is the offensive cordinator in Boulder.
I guess I'm just curious, why did he have to decide Friday in the first place? is there some college football law that said it had to be picked friday JUST so keller could play with the first string offense? Why didn't he just say "look, i'm still not done" and make the guys bring out two jerseys and split time with first and second team... All who say he should have had this talk first, are correct... I understand the argument that says his players came to him and he listened. I respect THAT LITTLE BIT of this situation. But that means, on the other hand, that he was THAT out of touch with the fact that his players feelings about who, for the past two seasons, has been literally the face of this program (billboards, streetpost signs, ads, etc.) were so negative... THAT's his failure here, not changing his mind...
The rest of the Pac-10 should continue to thank heavens for Mr. Koetter's presence in Tempe. Who else could continue to flounder at the end of each season with the level of talent he has on the field? A Washington State or a Stanford would be top 20 team year after year with his depth of players.
The shot about Loren Wade was not a cheap shot. I got my MBA with a Sports Business specialization at ASU so I know a number of folks in the athletic department. Wade was causing trouble and breaking rules since he arrived. Koetter should have gotten rid of him or gotten him the help he cdesperately needed, but he didn't.
Dirk has a good offensive mind, but he is a horrible head coach. His in-game decision making is terrible.
This sounds like what happened at Kentucky several years ago. The coach announced the starting qb, then something happened, and he changed his mind and put Jared (Dough Boy) Lorenzen in as the starter. The former starter (maybe Bonner??) and record holder transferred immediately. Lorenzen never made use of his talent. The coach...I don't even remember his name. I don't know what's worse...being really bad or having someone compare the state of ASU's football program to UK!
Koetter definitely messed up. IMO a guy should never lose his position due to injury no matter if the backup comes in and plays out of this world as did Carpenter. The coach should've been adamant, that Keller is the starter and that Carpenter had to show that he was much better to earn the spot.
It didn't sound as if that was the case, it was a coin flip and Koetter is going to change his mind based on what his players think of the two QBs off the field?
Okie State fans are grateful that Koetter changed his mind on our HC position before taking the ASU job...he did a great job at Boise State but he's blowing in among the big boys!
There's two ways to look at this. One, Koetter is the John Kerry of college football coaches, an indecisive flip-flopper who goes with whatever he thinks his constituency wants to hear (this is coming from a life-long democrat!). On the other hand, you have to admit he is one cutthroat SOB who has little concern for the feelings of an individual in the face of the concerns of a collective goal--that is, winning baby. Sometimes, that's what it takes. Actually, there is a third take on this...Koetter is an X's and O's guy with no people skills who should be sequesterd to a booth with a pen and a clipboard, never to interface with the players over which he has control.