ASU no longer offering football job to Kevin Sumlin?

What do Arizona and Arizona State have in common when it comes to hiring a new football coach?

Apparently, very little.

Both schools fired their head football coaches this season, with Arizona pulling the trigger mid-way through the season and ASU waiting until the regular season concluded.

When Mike Stoops was let go at Arizona, the school’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, told the media and the rest of the Wildcat Nation that he wouldn’t be talking about the coaching search.  We would all hear from him when he was ready to announce his new coach, he said.

Sure enough, 42 days later the former ASU grad-turned- Wildcat AD used his twitter account to announce that Rich Rodriguez had been hired to replace Stoops.  The deal was done.

He even included a picture with his tweet, showing him with Rodriguez, wearing an Arizona cap and flanked by his wife and kids.  He followed that up with the usual press conference to formally introduce his catch.

Eleven days later, the Arizona Board of Regents approved a 5-year contract for the former Michigan and West Virginia coach, giving him $1.45 million in his first year and increasing that each of the next four years.

Signed.  Sealed.  And delivered.

Down in Tempe, the process of hiring a new Sun Devil boss has been a study in contrast.

Dennis Erickson was let go within days of concluding a season that ended with four straight losses, the ultimate frustration for the fan base that had expected big things after a 6-2 start and visions of a shot at the Pac-12 title.

Within days, speculation ran rampant about whether ASU had offered the job to Kevin Sumlin, the Houston head coach who has been at the top of the wish list for just about every major program that has just fired a head coach.  Even though Erickson is expected to coach the Devils in a bowl game.

A report in The Arizona Republic on Thursday said ASU had offered Sumlin the job.  But Houston-area media weren’t so sure.  And Sumlin himself insisted he hadn’t been offered a job by any school.

ASU also denied that an offer had been made to anyone.

Then it was reported that ASU Vice President for Athletics Lisa Love was going to board a plane today, along with the school’s president, Michael Crow, and several other athletic department personnel.  They were supposedly headed to Houston to meet Sumlin following his team’s appearance in the Conference USA Championship game.

If that’s correct, it means Love offered the job to Sumlin without even interviewing him in person, handling everything through Sumlin’s agent.  Frankly, that’s a little hard to believe.

But in contrast, Byrne at UofA reportedly met with Rodriguez on three different occasions before making the final decision.  And he also talked to just about anybody in Rodriguez’s past that could shed some light on the kind of coach he would be getting.  Rodriguez even joked that he thinks Byrne probably talked to his first-grade teacher, he was so thorough.

Now it appears Love has changed her mind.

In a report yesterday from Fox 26 Houston, later confirmed by The Arizona Republic, ASU has dropped plans to continue its quest to hire Sumlin.

(*Update:  Maybe the ASU AD had a premonition… Sumlin’s Houston Cougers were embarrassed by Southern Mississippi in the conference championship game.  The 49-28 loss seems to confirm that Houston ran up a 12-0 record against a weak schedule and probably didn’t deserve the No. 6 BCS standing.)

Just when Love decided to pull the trigger and take the bold step of making an offer to Sumlin on the fly, trying to beat the rest of the pack to perhaps the hottest prospect on this year’s coaching carousel, she was blindsided by Texas A&M.

The Aggies made an unexpected move by firing Mike Sherman.  Some suspect he was fired for the specific purpose of creating an opening to pursue Sumlin, who had been an offensive coordinator at the school in 2001-02.

(*update 12/10…After Sumlin announced he was staying at Houston, word came out today that  he will be taking over the program at Texas A&M.)

Love probably figured she had bought a shiny new Christmas present for her fan base, to help them forget the last four years without a winning season.

But before she could get it wrapped and put the bow on top, the Aggies stole Christmas.