How much longer can ASU football keep Mike Norvell?

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                </div>  When the major college football programs need a new head coach, they often look to pirate away an up-and-coming young offensive coordinator at another school. That’s why there’s a […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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When the major college football programs need a new head coach, they often look to pirate away an up-and-coming young offensive coordinator at another school.

That’s why there’s a lot of attention falling on Tempe, where Mike Norvell has built an offense that is one of the nation’s most exciting and effective, positioning the Arizona State Sun Devils as a national contender again – conjuring up thoughts among the fan base of the days when Frank Kush teams earned a national reputation for the school back in the glory days of the  ’60s and ’70s.

At 33, Norvell is one of the youngest offensive coordinators in the country.  But that hasn’t kept him from building an impressive resume already.  Last season, he was among the nominees for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s most outstanding assistant football coaches.

That 2013 team scored at least 50 points in six different games to set a new school record – and surpassed the total from all four previous years combined.

Got a quarterback that needs to be developed?  Norvell’s your man for that, too.  His responsibilities at ASU include serving as the quarterbacks coach.  He can be credited with turning senior Taylor Kelly into one of the best signal callers in program history.

An injury earlier in the season kept Taylor on the sidelines for three games and his game still hasn’t returned to its original form as the Devils have lost two of their final three games.  But he finished the 2013 season ranked in the top 30 nationally in the majority of major quarterback categories and had moved into the top three in five different single-season record lists at ASU.

Norvell runs a read-option style of offense that speeds up the attack and can generate points that come in bunches – and often.  And that puts fans in the stands.  In his first two years, his offense ran up more than 12,000 total yards and 1,032 total points, which is more than any ASU team in the last 40 years has been able to do in a two-year span.

This year the Devils averaged 37 points and 446.5 yards of total offense per game, and more than 70 percent of the Devils’ scoring drives in Norvell’s quick-strike offense have come in three minutes or less.

His handiwork was put on the biggest stage of the year when the Devils stunned No. 8-ranked Notre Dame on national television by burying the Irish in a 55-31 avalanche of scoring, more points than had been scored against the tradition-rich program since 1985.  ASU piled up 412 yards of offense on that Nov. 8 afternoon.

Norvell’s stock shot through the roof that day.

The latest school to make a run at Norvell was the University of Tulsa, which just named Philip Montgomery to replace head coach Bill Blankenship.  And, true to form, Montgomery came from Baylor, where he was the offensive coordinator.

Before the selection committee made its pick of Montgomery, Norvell removed his name from consideration for that job, which is not the first interest he has had from other programs.  But how much longer will head coach Todd Graham be able to hold on to a hot commodity that will continue to get more, and better, offers?

Right after the 2013 season ended last December, Graham promoted Norvell to something he calls Deputy Head Coach to recognize Norvell’s contribution to the program’s success.  Norvell is also well-compensated for his work; his $900,000 base salary is the highest in the Pac-12 for an assistant coach.

And there’s a genuine friendship that has developed over the nine years the two have worked together, a relationship that spans Graham’s stops at three other colleges before taking on the ASU job three years ago.

But what assistant coach doesn’t want to move up the ladder and get a chance to run his own program?  That’s just the natural progression of things in college sports.

It’s just a matter of time before the right offer comes along.  ASU fans need to appreciate what they’ve got – before that offer arrives in Mike Norvell’s mail box.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)