SHERATON HAWAII BOWL
Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter was 40-33 in six seasons and had a deal through 2009 but was fired before the Hawaii Bowl. CLICK FOR LARGE
ASU's funny Devil
Coach Koetter uses light-hearted humor to forget about his firing
DIRK KOETTER has lost his position, but not his sense of humor.
When the lame duck Arizona State football coach was asked about job possibilities yesterday, he didn't miss a beat.
"Do you have one for me?"
He's serving out his final days at the Sun Devils helm in Waikiki, prepping ASU for its Sheraton Hawaii Bowl date with Hawaii on Sunday.
Not a bad parting gift.
But, wait, there's more ...
At yesterday's news conference, executive director Jim Donovan announced that Koetter and UH coach June Jones will be given free trips to Tahiti as gifts from the Hawaii Bowl, pending NCAA approval. But Koetter doesn't care; he won't be under the college sports police's jurisdiction after Sunday.
"I'd like to suggest we bag NCAA rules," he said with a grin.
Koetter had lots of reasons to laugh and smile last year when ASU athletic director Lisa Love extended his contract through the 2009 season. Now it's to prevent crying, after Love sacked Koetter last month. He was fired despite a 7-5 record including a season-ending 28-14 win over Arizona. But his 40-33 overall record in six seasons included 2-19 against ranked teams.
"It just seems like the media and the boosters and everybody just turned on him," said Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier. Frazier keeps a close eye on all things ASU; it's his alma mater and he was the athletic department's No. 2 man for many years.
"It's been tough on him and he's a good guy," Frazier added. "A couple of things. Arizona State has not been to the Fiesta Bowl since 1983, a bowl that was created for them. They haven't been to a BCS bowl, other than the Rose Bowl. They went in '86 and '96 and haven't been since then. I guess the expectations are for Dennis Erickson to get there and get to the Rose Bowl within five years and that's pretty tough."
That's life in the big leagues, but it still sucks, Jones said.
"He's a great guy. It's the nature of our business. Unfortunately the business has changed. He does an outstanding job and he's a great character guy, everything," Jones said. "A lot of times people that are in (athletic director) positions in a lot of places don't really understand what it takes to do what (coaches are) doing. Some people in those positions don't know that they don't know."
Koetter was the Boise State coach from 1998 to 2000. He set the foundation for the Broncos current success that includes an appearance next month in one of the big games he couldn't get the Sun Devils into -- the Fiesta Bowl.
"I'm very pleased and excited for what's going on at Boise State. Chris Petersen is a good friend of mine. What's happened over the years there is a great story because it's a relatively young Division I football program," Koetter said. "To see what they've been able to do, it's really a neat thing for college football. My hat's off to the current players and coaches at Boise State."
Ian Scheuring, an ASU freshman offensive tackle who graduated from Radford, said he is disappointed in Koetter's departure.
"He's one of the best coaches I've ever been around," Scheuring. "We had four starting linemen injured and two of our three wide receivers out, but still had a good year. I'm sure some of my teammates share the opinion that we disagree with the decision."
One of them is second-team All-American tight end Zach Miller.
"Personally I was surprised. I didn't see it coming, especially after we beat our rival, Arizona. We were 7-5, going to our third bowl game in three years," he said. "That's how college football is now."
Koetter -- who coincidentally replaced fired Bruce Snyder after the 2000 Aloha Bowl -- could have declined to coach one last game for the Sun Devils.
"It was not a hard decision because the game is about the players. This is a reward to the 2006 players and the job they did, so for me to participate on behalf of the players, that's a no-brainer," Koetter said. "I'd do anything for these guys. Circumstances are certainly unique, but that's just part of that fighting adversity thing. Life's not perfect and you've got to make the best of it."
Koetter, who has a wife and four children, said the only future he's thinking about is four days from now at Aloha Stadium.
"We'll see what happens. I don't want this to be about that. I want this to be about this game. There's plenty of time for that," he said.
He can ponder it on the beach in Tahiti.
Will he consider a career change?
"Oh no. I'm a coach," Koetter said. "I'm a coach."