Mike Norvell Unplugged on Past, Present and Future

Mike Norvell’s coaching career, much like his offense, is moving fast.

The former Arizona State deputy head coach is now, at the age of 34, the youngest head coach in college football after taking over at the University of Memphis earlier this month. The future is bright for one of the fast-risers in the industry.

For Norvell, the timing and fit couldn’t have been better.

“I’ve had a tremendous situation there at ASU and loved my time there,” Norvell told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “I knew it was going to take a special opportunity for me to leave there and I believe Memphis is that special opportunity.”

He leaves Tempe with a wealth more of coaching experience and endless memories in what he called “the best four years of being involved in football.” Norvell credits players like Taylor Kelly, D.J. Foster, Mike Bercovici and others for having as much impact on his life as he had on theirs.

2015 was far from perfect as Todd Graham’s lofty pre-season expectations were quickly tempered with a one-sided, season-opening loss to Texas A&M which snowballed to a 6-6 finish and spot in the Cactus Bowl against West Virginia. Few were criticized more than Norvell for the Sun Devils offensive inconsistencies. Through it all, his confidence and coaching conviction never wavered.

“It’s kind of part of the process and part the profession,” he said of the his pundits. “It didn’t affect me too much one way or the other. There’s nobody more competitive than I am.”

When the Tigers open spring workouts it will be the first time in nearly a decade Norvell won’t be sharing a sideline with Graham who he says has been instrumental in his rise up the ranks. He will certainly take some of what he learned from his mentor but intends on developing his own brand at Memphis.

“We’re going to have our program and our way of doing things,” he explained. “Everything for us is going to be built around our players and making sure we’re giving them the best opportunity.”

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.