Change is part of the coaching business. While some coaches are fortunate enough to spend their entire career with one school or team, the majority bounce around from job to job. When ASU fired Dennis Erickson and hired Todd Graham, the process of introducing a new coaching staff began.
Mike Norvell, who has worked with Graham for five seasons at Tulsa and Pittsburgh, is one of the new faces on the ASU coaching staff.
Prior to beginning his coaching career at the University of Central Arkansas, Norvell played receiver at UCA, where he finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions.
The State Press had a chance to sit down with Norvell and discuss his decision to join the ASU coaching staff as well as his plans for the Sun Devil offense.
The State Press: You were co-offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh and worked with the receivers. Is there any update on your position at ASU?
Mike Norvell: Todd’s (Graham) getting all that stuff done. It’s all in the works right now.
SP: You’ve been with Graham for a few years, but what else brought you to ASU?
MV: Obviously when coach Graham took the job here and presented me with the opportunity to come here with him, I was extremely excited about it.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, (so) I’ve been pretty familiar with football and watching it as I was growing up. Being in the coaching profession, you see programs that are primed for success and this is a program that I think has got a lot in place. The location here is one of the best in the entire country; we’ve got a great group of men to work with. I’m just excited about the opportunity to be here.
SP: You mention pieces in place and a program that’s primed for success, but last year ended with five straight losses. There were a lot of seniors and Brock Osweiler just went pro — what do you see that makes you say that?
MN: You get in there and you get a chance to meet our players. You’ve got a group of guys that are eager to be successful. They’re sitting at the edge of their seat wanting to do whatever they can to bring a Pac-12 championship here to Tempe. We’ve got some athletic playmakers here and we’ve got some guys that are hungry and that, as a coach, is all you can ask for — guys that are willing to give of themselves for the team to be successful.
I feel really good about our talent level that’s coming back. I know we lost a couple guys, but (in) any program you’re going to face that. I think we’ve got a good group of guys coming back that can be very successful.
SP: As far as the talent coming back, you now have a quarterback battle. What have you seen from (Michael) Eubank, (Mike) Bercovici and (Taylor) Kelly?
MN: All three of the guys are extremely talented. I’ve watched all their stuff from when they were in high school. Some of them I was a little more familiar with than others, but the thing I’ve liked is the leadership qualities. They want to do right. They’re great character young men that are going to work extremely hard and are natural leaders.
The talent is there. We’re going to have a great competition. Those guys are going to compete every single day in everything that they do. That’s what I expect from them, but it’s going to be a close group. We’re all in this thing together and I’m looking forward to watching these guys grow.
SP: We’re in a bit of a dead period right now, but how’s recruiting going since you got a bit of a late start when you’re trying to assemble a new staff?
MN: It’s been good. You do get a late start and you have to form relationships quicker. You have to fast track and build relationships as quick as you can because that’s what recruiting is all about: relationships. Some of the guys that we’ve just been able to start talking to and get in front of in a short period of time have been well received. We’re just trying to bring the best guys that fit our system to ASU.
SP: In Todd’s introductory press conference, he said that not only do commits sign with a program, but with a coaching staff as well. That being said, are you guys looking to bring any of your Pitt recruits to ASU?
MN: No. We’re looking for guys that fit our program here at ASU. We’re going out and seeing the guys that are the best fit at ASU. I think we are on the right track and we are looking forward to getting those players on signing day.
SP: On a personal note, how long do you see yourself at ASU and what is your ultimate goal in the coaching profession?
MN: I’m excited about being here. This is a place I can see myself being at for a really long time. Like any football coach, I have desires of becoming a D-1 head football coach, but my time and my focus right now is on doing the best I can to help build these guys up to go win a Pac-12 championship. This is a great place for me and my family and I’m really happy to be here.
SP: Earlier today, ESPN published some very early power rankings for the 2012 football season. ASU was projected No. 11 in the conference. What are your thoughts on that?
MN: There’s going to be a lot of things that come out. I don’t try to get caught up in that. All I can focus on is today and tomorrow and how we’re going to work. We’re starting this process and we’re starting to go to work. We have a lot of time before next season and I’m looking forward to each of those days to prepare and get ready.
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