After guiding the Sun Devils to three bowl appearances in his five seasons in Tempe, which include the first set of consecutive bowl game victories for ASU in nearly 20 years, Dirk Koetter has returned the Arizona State University football program to the national spotlight. His leadership has helped the Sun Devils become a potential yearly Pac-10 championship contender and bowl game participant, and has frequently and consistently been nationally ranked within weekly polls. He has developed one of the most dominant offenses in college football and has expertly directed the progress of some of the finest athletes ever to play for Arizona State.
A contract extension presented to Koetter following the 2005 season, along with the addition of four new assistant coaches to his staff, gives the program the stability necessary to propel Koetter and Arizona State football to among the nation's elite.
The next steps for Koetter's Sun Devils are to maintain their success, win a coveted Pacific-10 Conference title and vault to the next level on the national scene. Koetter holds a 33-28 record in five years guiding the Sun Devils, and the team's 17-8 record throughout its past 25 games ranks third in the Pac-10 Conference, trailing only Southern California and California. Acting as his own offensive coordinator during his first five years, he has firmly established the Sun Devils among the nation's offensive leaders. He likes to put points on the board to the tune of 31.5 points per game over the last five years, while the Sun Devils have been ranked in the top 20 in the nation in passing offense in each of the previous four seasons.
Throughout his five-year tenure, Koetter has directed ASU's all-time leading passer in Andrew Walter, its top career receiver in Derek Hagan, as well as Koetter's only unanimous All-American honoree Terrell Suggs, who in 2002 established the NCAA single-season record with 24 sacks. Additionally, Suggs (2002) and Dale Robinson (2005) earned Pac-10 Conference Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year honors under Koetter's guidance. Also, each Sun Devil team during Koetter's Sun Devil career has showcased a 1,000-yard receiver. Prior to Koetter's arrival in Tempe in 2001, only four times in ASU history a receiver had surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in a single season.
From a recruiting standpoint, Koetter and his staff have successfully landed several highly ranked prep athletes and have also had a knack for locating immediate contributors from the junior college level. ASU has also dominated in-state recruiting under Koetter, signing a total of 42 Arizonans to national letters of intent, which include five straight Arizona state players of the year.
The 2005 season was highlighted by several individual and team milestone performances, as ASU finished the season with a 7-5 record, which was capped off by a 45-40 victory over Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl played in Phoenix. Wide Receiver Derek Hagan concluded his career as perhaps the greatest at his position in both Arizona State and Pac-10 Conference history. Hagan ended his Sun Devil career as the all-time leader in Pac-10 history in receptions, and ranks second all-time in receiving yards and seventh on the career receiving touchdowns list. He wrapped up his historic career playing for Koetter in Tempe catching a total of 258 passes for 3,939 yards and 27 touchdowns, all of which are ASU records. On the year, Hagan recorded his school-record third straight season with 1,000 receiving yards, catching 77 passes for 1,210 yards and eight touchdowns and was named as a third team All-American and a first team All-Pac-10 honoree.
The ability that Koetter has historically had to successfully develop and utilize quarterbacks was taken to a new level in 2005, thanks to the impressive performances by junior Sam Keller and redshirt freshman Rudy Carpenter, who combined for all but 43 of a single-season ASU record 4,481 passing yards. ASU finished second in the nation in total offense, averaging 519.1 yards per game, led by its aerial attack that ranked third nationally, averaging 373.4 passing yards per game. The Sun Devils also finished seventh in the nation in scoring offense, accounting for 36.8 points per game.
In his first year as a starter replacing ASU's career passing leader Andrew Walter, Keller threw for 2,165 yards and 20 touchdowns despite missing the final five games due to injury. Throughout the seven games in which he played, Keller recorded two 400-yard games, two 300-yard games and his 20 touchdown passes rank within ASU's top 10 single-season efforts. Carpenter took over the reigns midway through the seventh game of the season and started the year's final five contests. Under Koetter's tutelage, Carpenter took immediate control of the offense and turned in the finest season by a freshman quarterback in ASU history. He established himself as one of the most accurate passers in all of college football, as he led the nation in passing efficiency with a 175.01 quarterback rating, ranked third nationally completing 68.4 percent of his passes and threw only two interceptions among his 228 total passing attempts. He threw 17 touchdown passes on the season and compiled a team rookie record of 2,273 passing yards, which included a 467-yard effort which led the Sun Devils to its Insight Bowl victory over Rutgers and earned Carpenter Offensive Player of the Game honors. His total in that contest stands as the eighth highest single game effort in ASU history and the most ever by a Sun Devil freshman.
Another first-year sensation emerged for the Sun Devils in true freshman running back Keegan Herring, who ran for a team freshman record 870 yards, and also recorded the third-most rushing yards in a game by an ASU freshman (197 vs. Northwestern) and the highest rushing total by a Sun Devil in his career debut (134 vs. Temple). In addition to the team's offensive prowess, senior linebacker Dale Robinson starred for the defense and was named the Pac-10 Conference Pat Tillman Co-Defensive Player of the Year. The former junior college transfer was the defensive leader and enforcer for the Sun Devils, ranking second in the conference with 115 total tackles and tied for first in the Pac-10 with 15 tackles for loss.
Altogether, Koetter's 2005 squad included two All-Americans (Hagan and junior KR Terry Richardson), two freshman All-Americans (Carpenter and Herring), 11 All-Pac-10 honorees and 10 Academic All-Pac-10 selections.
In 2004, the Sun Devils turned in the finest campaign of Koetter's tenure so far, compiling a 9-3 overall record and tying for third in the Pac-10 with a 5-3 mark. In the team's best start since 1996, ASU opened the season with a 5-0 record, including a 44-7 rout of then No. 16/12 Iowa. ASU earned its second bowl appearance in four years with a trip to the 2004 Vitalis Sun Bowl where the Sun Devils came from behind to defeat favored Purdue 27-23. In his first career start, sophomore quarterback Sam Keller directed a game-winning 80-yard touchdown drive with less than two minutes left to win the game and won Sun Bowl MVP honors. ASU finished the season ranked 19th and 20th in the polls and turned in the team's most victories since 1997.
Quarterback Andrew Walter completed one of the finest careers in school history, playing his final three years for Koetter. He set nearly every one of ASU's career and single-season records for passing yards, touchdowns, attempts, completions and total offense. Walter also became the Pac-10's career leader for touchdown passes with 85, surpassing the 77 that John Elway threw while at Stanford from 1979-82, and threw for 10,617 career yards which set the school mark and put him at fifth all time in the league. Junior Derek Hagan continued his assault on the ASU's career and single-season receiving records, ranking second in the Pac-10 and seventh in the nation with a school-record 104.0 yards per game, while tight end Zach Miller earned Freshman All-America honors after shattering ASU's freshman receiving records and its overall mark for catches by a tight end. As a team, ASU led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth in the nation with a school-record 317.3 passing yards per game in 2004. The team's 3,808 passing yards ranked second all time at ASU, while Koetter's Sun Devils have turned in the three top passing efforts in school history (2002-04).
Koetter has his team firmly on the path to success since seeing the Sun Devils finish with a 4-7 overall mark in 2001, his first year in Tempe. After being picked to finish ninth in the 2002 preseason conference polls, ASU exceeded all outside expectations the following year and put the program back on the national stage. The 2002 season started earlier than ever (Aug. 24) and had the most games in school history (14). The Sun Devils turned in an 8-6 record, finished third in the Pac-10 with a 5-3 league mark and earned a Holiday Bowl berth against Big XII Conference powerhouse Kansas State, then the sixth-ranked team in the country.
The overall record was hardly indicative of the amount of success the team had. Of ASU's six losses, four came against teams that were ranked in the nation's top 10. Furthermore, the loss in the Holiday Bowl was against the highest rated team in the land not go to a BCS Bowl Game. The 2002 Sun Devil squad showed poise and competitiveness that belied their youth, as evidenced by their ability to erase a 21-point deficit at then sixth-ranked Oregon - one of the toughest places to play in the nation - to pull out a 45-42 victory and catapult the Devils into the top 25 for the first time in three years. By the 10th game of the season, ASU had climbed as high as No. 16 in the country, the highest ranking since 1997. Under Koetter's guidance, ASU vaulted into the country's top 10 in passing with 303.9 yards per game and the country's top 20 in scoring with 32.3 points per contest in 2002. His high-powered offense allowed Walter, then a sophomore, to shatter just about every single-season passing record in school history, while wide receiver Shaun McDonald also set several all-time bests.
In 2003, the Sun Devils weren't as successful as they had hoped with a 5-7 mark, but there were many indications of the success that was to come in 2004. Led by Walter, ASU ranked in the national top 20 in passing offense for the second year in a row and turned in the second-best passing season in school history (behind only the accomplishments of Koetter's team in 2002). Hagan established himself as one of the top receivers in the league, ranking 19th in the country, while a number of young players made strides as well with seven true freshmen seeing action and three rookies named to The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman squad.
Led by one of the most potent offenses in college football, expectations for Koetter and the Sun Devils have risen to a high level, and the team plans to build on its recent prosperity and current foundation to become a legitimate and consistent national championship contender. Koetter's vision for the program also continues to take shape as he has put a player leadership council and a character-building curriculum in place to build team leaders and help the Sun Devils achieve their goals of excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
The 2000 football season was hardly normal at Arizona State University. So when Dirk Koetter was named the 21st head football coach in ASU history Dec. 2, some had to be shaking their heads. Or maybe they were nodding along, because in a season where abnormality was commonplace, Koetter seemed to fit the mold. Who was this guy? The day after athletic director Gene Smith announced the heir to the Sun Devil throne, the media couldn't even agree on the pronunciation of the coach's surname (for the record, it's `Cutter'). It was nice to learn that in just three seasons at Boise State University, Koetter was a two-time Big West Coach of the Year and two-time conference champion. It was great to find that before BSU, Koetter spent two years as the offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon, guiding the team to a school-record 32 touchdown passes in 1997.
Yet the more one learned about Koetter, the more the mystery surrounding the man grew. A native of Pocatello, Idaho, coming off that three-year stint in Boise, Koetter was traveling from a land where the winters were packed with cold and snow to a climate where f-words like frigid and freezing are absent from the lexicon. Months away from his first home game on the lush green grass of Sun Devil Stadium, at Koetter's previous arena his team played on turf that was not only artificial, but blue as an ocean. While the Sun Devils play to a major metropolitan area, Koetter was coming from a town with an environment more intimate than even the Boise population of 350,000 would suggest.
At ASU, Koetter was inheriting a program where Pasadena and the Rose Bowl are always the dream destination. At Boise State, Koetter thrilled legions of fans by earning back-to-back bowl bids to the Humanitarian Bowl, berths that meant staying home for another game on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium. Perhaps these were unimportant revelations regarding Koetter, but his identity seemed elusive and hard to grasp. Some tales suggested Koetter was extremely hands-on, a coach who operated as his own offensive coordinator and called every play from the sidelines. But then there was evidence that he preferred the shadows, entrusting his assistants handle the pre-game speeches in all but two occasions: the first game of a season and the last. While Koetter made it clear that his high-octane offense was reliant upon calculated vertical attacks, he was surprisingly flexible in formation, willing to try almost any scheme he felt put the 11 best athletes on the field.
Even off the field, it was hard to get a reading on ASU's new general. While at Boise State, some - including himself - had called him cocky and distant. Others - including himself - described him as confident and determined. To those involved with ASU, Koetter's character will be determined by his years in the Valley of the Sun. How his Sun Devils get into the end zone will be as important as how they get into the community. How they compete inside the classroom will be as crucial as how they succeed inside the margins of the field.
December was just beginning. Yet with the Sun Devils' second consecutive Aloha Bowl appearance only weeks away, so much had already been decided. The opponent was Boston College. The regular season record was 6-5. And the result of ASU's postseason affair would have little to no impact on the season to follow. ASU was looking for a new head football coach. It was a search that began in mid-November when athletic director Gene Smith announced that Bruce Snyder's nine-year reign in the Valley of the Sun would end in unison with the 2000 season. It was a search that ended Dec 2, 2000, when Smith named Koetter ASU's 21st head football coach - 23 days before ASU would fall to Boston College in Hawaii, 26 days before Koetter's Boise State Broncos would defeat Texas-El Paso in the Humanitarian Bowl and one day after Koetter's verbal commitment to coach Oklahoma State was announced by nationwide media.
The questions were obvious. How had this happened? How had Koetter shifted from OSU to ASU, seemingly in less than 24 hours? The answer was automatic. With Smith to his right, his wife to his left and his four children - just being children - scattered about in front of the attentive media that packed the press box at Sun Devil Stadium, Koetter explained it all in eight monosyllabic words: "I am in the job of my dreams." It's tough to pinpoint quite when those dreams began, but there are certainly road signs along the way. Growing up the son of a high school football coach in Pocatello, Idaho, Koetter was born into the sport. He has been quoted as saying that he started coaching at age 6, a by-product of an environment where football was the daily topic at the dinner table. At the age of eight, he was scribbling down offensive plays. By the time he was in college, helping Idaho State to a Division I-AA national championship, he was referred to as "the offensive coordinator on the field." By 23, he had his first head coaching job, guiding his alma mater Highland High to an 8-3 season in Pocatello. When he was 24, Highland went 11-1 to win the 1984 Idaho state championship. In 1985, he was coaching in the college ranks as San Francisco State's offensive coordinator. In 1986, he made the leap to the Division I ranks, landing a job as quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator at Texas-El Paso.
And it was then that a 26-year-old Koetter's dreams took on a whole new light, as he described in his first ASU press conference. "It was 15 years ago I became a Division I coach for the first time at Texas-El Paso," Koetter explained. "Head coach Bob Stull told me, your recruiting area is Phoenix, Ariz. They put me on a plane. I landed at Sky Harbor after dark and had no idea where I was going. "I stayed at the Fiesta Inn and my first stop the next morning was McClintock High School. Right after I left McClintock High School, I drove up the street a little bit and I saw Sun Devil Stadium and the Arizona State University campus. "And this is true, 15 years ago I said, someday I'm going to be the head coach at that school. So today is certainly my dream come true. In the end, make no mistake, this is where I want to be, because Arizona State has the ability to win a national championship."
To properly recognize the magnificence of Boise State football at Koetter's departure, one must understand the state of the program upon his arrival. Two years removed from BSU's induction into the Division-I ranks, one year after a Bronco Stadium renovation produced 7,400 additional seats and earned the right to host the annual Humanitarian Bowl, the Broncos were coming off their fourth losing season in six years and their second in a row.
Enter Dirk Koetter as the seventh coach head coach in BSU history. Welcome, winning season. Sure, it was only a 6-5 finish, but there was reason to be excited. In his first head coaching job at that level, Koetter had just guided BSU to its first winning season in D-I. You could see the improvement in the numbers. While the 2-10 team of 1996 averaged a mere 20 points per game, and the 5-6 team of 1997 improved to 25.9, Koetter's offensive wizardry made the Broncos a team that averaged nearly 30 points per game (settling for 29.9) and finished the season ranked 24th in the nation in total offense. One game over .500 or not, the Broncos were one play away from winning the Big West Championship in a season that had already extended past its scheduled hours. At home against Idaho in the final game of the '98 season, Koetter endured pain that cannot be matched outside a rivalry game as the Vandals faked an extra point try and came up with a two-point conversion to claim the conference crown in overtime, 36-35. As sour as that moment had been, as much as it may have defined that game or that season, it would serve as a point of motivation in the future. It was Koetter's Alamo, a tragic loss that ultimately led to wins in the future.
Over the next two seasons, few teams that played BSU would be able to say that the game came down to one play. The 1999 season that began at 1-2, including a loss to UCLA, saw the Broncos rally to win nine of their final 10 games and finish at 10-3. Clearly getting stronger with the season, BSU won its last six, not by one play, not by an extra point or a field goal, but by an average of 24.5 points per contest. Included in that span was a 63-10 trouncing of Arkansas State, a 45-14 slaying of Idaho and a 34-31 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Louisville in front of the Boise faithful. Twenty-eight years of D-II football had netted only six conference championships for BSU. All it took for one title at the D-I level was four years and two under Koetter.
And yet Koetter's third season was without question BSU's finest. After two winning seasons, including BSU's first D-I bowl appearance and victory, the Broncos' football program certainly bore the signature of their head coach, but for the first time in many years they were also shouldered with expectations. If that was supposed to be a burden, the Broncos didn't appear to notice. Instead they took to the field in 2000 like a championship act, turning in spectacular performances week after week. In the second week of the season, BSU defeated its opponent by 25 points. In the fourth week it was 27. In the seventh week 59. In the final two games of the regular season, the Broncos first sent Utah State home at 66-38 and then dismissed Idaho 66-24. Once again Koetter was named Big West Coach of the Year. Once again, his Broncos were conference champions. Once again they were all staying home to party in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Meanwhile, like never before, the Broncos were invading the national football scene at the sport's highest amateur level. At the end of the regular season, that was BSU ranked No.1 in scoring offense - not in the Big West, not on the West Coast, but in the nation. That was BSU at No. 2 in total offense and No. 4 in passing offense. At the helm of Koetter's big-play attack, that was quarterback Bart Hendricks leading the nation in passing efficiency and touchdown passes. Producing 330.27 yards per game, that was Hendricks ranking fourth in total offense. That was Hendricks, too, leading the Broncos in BSU's second straight Humanitarian Bowl win, toppling Texas El-Paso 38-23. As if demonstrating the versatility of Koetter's offense to ASU fans eagerly watching on ESPN2, Hendricks threw two touchdown passes, ran for one and caught another. Koetter's career record at BSU wrapped at 26-10, including wins in 20 of his last 25 games. To his incumbent staff, he not only left winning streaks of seven overall and 14 at home (including the two bowl wins) upon which to build. More importantly, he left proof that Boise State could not only compete, it could excel.
Born Feb. 5, 1959, in Pocatello, Idaho, Dirk Koetter's collegiate coaching career saw six stops before ASU. Koetter's first stop was at San Francisco State, where he spent 1985 as the offensive coordinator. At Texas-El Paso from 1986-1988, Koetter served his first of four straight stints as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, later moving on to Missouri (1989-1993), Boston College (1994-1995) and Oregon (1996-1997). Boise State gave Koetter his first head coaching job (1998-2000), and he returned the favor with three winning seasons, two conference titles, two Humanitarian Bowl wins and two Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors. Koetter was named the 21st football coach in ASU history on Dec. 2, 2000. A 1981 graduate of Idaho State University with a bachelor's degree in physical education, Koetter was a four-year letterwinner. During his playing career at ISU, Koetter achieved Big Sky Conference and NCAA Region 7 all-academic honors. He earned a master's degree in athletic administration from Idaho State in 1982.
Dirk and his wife, Kim, are parents to two daughters, Kaylee (13) and Kendra (9), and two sons, Derek (12) and Davis (7).
THE KOETTER FILE
Born: February 5, 1959 in Pocatello, Idaho
High School Education: Highland High School, Pocatello, Idaho
College Education: Idaho State, 1981 (BS); Idaho State, 1982 (MA).
College Football: Idaho State, 1978-81
Family: Wife Kim, daughters Kaylee (13) and Kendra (9), sons Derek (12) and Davis (7).
Former USA Today Coaches Poll voter
|1998||Boise State||6-5||2-3 (4th)||-|
|1999||Boise State||10-3||5-1 (1st)||Humanitarian|
|2000||Boise State||10-2||5-0 (1st)||Humanitarian|
|2001||Arizona State||4-7||1-7 (9th)||-|
|2002||Arizona State||8-6||5-3 (3rd)||Holiday|
|2003||Arizona State||5-7||2-6 (T8th)||-|
|2004||Arizona State||9-3||5-3 (T3rd)||Sun|
|2005||Arizona State||7-5||4-4 (4th)||Insight|
Professional Quarterbacks Coached
|Name||School||Team (Draft Round)|
|Andrew Walter||Arizona State||Oakland Raiders (3rd)|
|Joey Harrington||Oregon||Detroit Lions (1st)|
|Akili Smith||Oregon||Cincinnati Bengals (1st)|
|A.J. Feeley||Oregon||Philadelphia Eagles (5th)|
|Matt Hasselback||Boston College||Seattle Seahawks (6th)|
|Bart Hendricks||Boise State||Edmonton Eskimoes (free agent)|
|Ryan Dinwiddie||Boise State||Chicago Bears (free agent)|
Former Assistant Coaches Under Koetter
Dan Hawkins -- Head Coach, Colorado
Brent Guy - Head Coach, Utah St
Ron English - Defensive Coordinator, Michigan
Mark Helfrich - Offensive Coordinator, Colorado
Mark Johnson - Defensive Coordinator, Utah St
Mark Carrier - Defensive Backs, Baltimore Ravens
Ted Monachino - Defensive Line, Jacksonville Jaguars