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Despite win, Koetter ousted

Love cites failure to win big games

 by Chris Ramirez
 published on Monday, November 27, 2006

Dirk Koetter speaks at a press conference Sunday night./issues/news/699029
Ashley Lowery / THE STATE PRESS
Dirk Koetter speaks at a press conference Sunday night.
 
Sun Devil players pose with the Saguaro and Territorial Cup after stomping UA 28-14 in Tucson Saturday./issues/news/699029
Eric Binns / THE STATE PRESS
Sun Devil players pose with the Saguaro and Territorial Cup after stomping UA 28-14 in Tucson Saturday.
 

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The ASU football team will be under new leadership when the 2007 season begins as head coach Dirk Koetter was fired Sunday.

Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love announced her decision to fire Koetter Sunday evening during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch while the team was partaking in its annual end-of-the-year banquet down the hall.

Love said she asked Koetter, who led the Sun Devils to a 28-14 win over intrastate rival UA on Saturday, to coach the team in its upcoming bowl game and he agreed.

In firing Koetter, ASU will owe him the $2.85 million he would have made on the final three years of his contract. Ironically, Love signed Koetter to a two-year extension in March.

Love said the financial aspect had no effect on her decision.

Love said she informed Koetter of the change via telephone Sunday morning.

"At 4 p.m. he addressed the football team and shortly afterward I addressed the football team," Love said.

"He wanted a very open and honest end-of-the-year banquet. He did not want to go into it with any dishonesty or false smiles. He wanted to address that big striped elephant in the room in a very candid, admirable and forthcoming way. So that's exactly what we did."

Love added she didn't want to take away from the team's seven victories this season but that the school is "looking for a higher platform."

"I looked after the extension last year, in the decisions we made and the administrative resources committed to the football program, for competitive traction on a high notch," she said. "Where we struggled in big games this year became problematic and therefore led me to making the decision that I've made."

Koetter, whose overall record was 40-33 during his tenure at ASU, also held a 2-19 mark against top-25 ranked teams.

Three of those 19 losses came earlier this season. In two of those games the Sun Devils lost in blowout fashion to Pac-10 opponents California and Oregon by a combined score of 97-34.

Those games were thought to be measuring sticks for ASU to see how far the program had come. Love admitted had those outcomes been different, she may have thought differently about dismissing Koetter.

Koetter's assistants, who were due to leave for recruiting trips on Monday, will also be officially dismissed - although there is the possibility the new head coach could ask them to stay.

Love said the search for a new coach will begin immediately and that she is looking for someone who can handle ASU's high expectations.

"I am attracted to people who have a rather powerful profile," Love said. "People who are very comfortable, very accustomed - it's their natural walk in the park to recruit to that level and create a program to that level."

Love said she has not yet made any contact with possible coaching candidates yet.

Koetter read a statement shortly after Love spoke and took the time to thank those who have been involved in his career at ASU including former ASU President Lattie Coor and former ASU athletic director Gene Smith, who were a part of his hiring.

Koetter said he would spend his newfound time with his family and helping his former assistants and players in any way possible.

He believes he will be coaching again.

"I have the itch to coach again right now," Koetter said. "I was born to coach, and I am sure I'll coach again."

But in true Koetter fashion, the former coach didn't end the night without a few quips.

"When you [the media] meet the new coach, don't tell him all he has to do is beat UA to keep everyone happy, because that's not true," he said.

Reach the reporter at: christopher.d.ramirez@asu.edu.



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