Ex Chandler football coach takes ASU helm

Former Chandler High School football head coach Shaun Aguano is introduced as the new interim head coach at Arizona State University during a press conference. (David Minton/Staff Photographer)

Shaun Aguano was a coaching legend at Chandler High School.

He built the Wolves into a powerhouse football program that was nationally ranked on several occasions and became a dynasty in 2016-18, when it won the 6A state championship under his leadership.

In 2019, he was hired by Arizona State to lead the running backs.

Now four short years later, Aguano is taking yet another step in his coaching career, albeit in circumstances he is not too keen on.

On Sept. 18, less than 24 hours after the Sun Devils’ loss to Eastern Michigan at home, the university announced that Herm Edwards had relinquished his position as head coach, opening the door for an interim coach from the current staff to step in.

Aguano was selected.

“It’s been a crazy couple of days,” Aguano said Sept. 18 during his first press conference as interim head coach.

“This opportunity, in the grand scheme of things, is a dream for me. All I can ask is for opportunity. So, what do I do with that opportunity in the next nine games? Try to put a product on the field that Sun Devil nation is proud of.”

The running-backs room under Aguano has been one of the strongest position groups in recent years for the Sun Devils.

Aguano coached Eno Benjamin in his first season with the Sun Devils; he was drafted in 2020 by the Arizona Cardinals and is now the team’s No. 2 back behind starter James Conner.

After Benjamin, Aguano helped develop Rachaad White, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chip Trayanum – who recently transferred to Ohio State to play linebacker – and Daniyel Ngata, who is currently part of a two-back system that includes Wyoming transfer X Valladay.

Aguano is passionate about the work he has done at Arizona State so far.

And he’s eager to begin a new chapter while upholding the same values he’s always had with coaching, which include his Hawaiian culture.

“Football is my life,” Aguano said. “Inspiring kids are my life. My kids sacrificed 20 years so I could do what I love. I want to make sure that I teach not only my kids, but I want to teach our kids that being a successful father, being a successful citizen of society, that’s the most important.

“That Ohana is a huge meaning for me because it’s all about family.”

Aguano’s interim status was met with positive reaction from the Chandler community and those who are faithful to the Sun Devils. While college football is a different animal, Aguano’s track record before his arrival to Arizona State speaks for itself.

He led Chandler to an 88-19 record in his eight seasons. He developed several high-level college football players, including Arizona State standouts Chase Lucas and N’Keal Harry, who are both now in the NFL.

Arizona State kept those two players for their college careers. But in recent years, keeping good players has been a struggle for the university.

Aguano hopes to change that.

“I will personally recruit Arizona kids,” Aguano said. “I’m an Arizona guy, I’ve been here for 20 years. I understand the landscape and what it means. My kids were born in Arizona. There’s not one coach, that I think, in the nation that loves Arizona and is in place at Arizona State that I think can do a better job than I can. That’s just the way I always bet on myself.”

Aguano became emotional during the press conference on a few occasions.

He explained in detail how much this opportunity means to him and his family.

He described his house as loud and boisterous when they received the news. He also estimated 27 notes he had written down on the notepad on his bedside table throughout a sleepless night heading into his first full day as interim head coach on Monday.

Aguano knows taking over the program won’t be an easy task.

It still has an NCAA investigation hanging over its head and just suffered one of its worst losses in program history heading into matchups with three nationally ranked opponents in Utah, USC and Washington.

But while at Chandler he prided himself on believing in his players to play the best teams in the nation. He has the same confidence in Arizona State.

“I think we have the talent to challenge anybody,” Aguano said. “I feel I have the expertise from a game management situation – and I’ll fall a little bit on Marvin Lewis as well – but that hasn’t changed. I think we can compete with anybody in the country.”

Before Aguano took over as the Chandler head coach, he recalled sitting at the Arizona coaching conventions where he heard successful high school coaches and Division I college coaches speak. Year after year, he would move up until he sat in the first row.

He told his wife he would be a head football coach one day.

It happened at Chandler and now just four years later, at Arizona State.

It’s been his dream to become a

college head coach, and he hopes to be able to drop the interim tag after this year and get a shot at doing it full-time for the Sun Devils.

“It’s the opportunity I had been asking for,” Aguano said. “Now with that opportunity, you have to go make sure you can keep that opportunity. I’m going to ask for (fans) support.

“You’ve got an Arizona coach who loves Arizona in this spot. Now let’s go and help an Arizona guy stay here.”