Shaun Aguano shows Ohana culture despite loss in 1st game - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Shaun Aguano shows Ohana culture despite loss in 1st game

October 10th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Shaun Aguano shows Ohana culture despite loss in 1st game
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

Arizona State’s patented video to welcome the team onto the field didn’t change Sept. 24. Sparky still walked through a giant dust storm and stomped the visiting Utah Ute bus. 

What did change, however, is what transpired at Sun Devil Stadium in Pat Tillman Tunnel. Players didn’t emerge before coaches. 

Instead, Shaun Aguano, the former Chandler High head coach who coached running backs for the Sun Devils up until last week when he was named interim head coach, walked with the team with their arms interlocked. It was a show of unity. It was a show of togetherness. 

It was to show this new era breeds family. Or, in Hawaiian culture, Ohana. It capped off what Aguano said was an “amazing” week, despite the outcome Saturday. 

“It was an amazing week for me,” Aguano said. “To be in charge of these kids and for them to do everything that I’ve asked … the only thing I asked is to play hard and we’ll see what happens. 

“I love these guys with all my heart. I told them at halftime and at the end of the game, ‘There will be no quit from me and there will be no quit from my staff.’ We’ll keep working.”

What transpired on the field over the course of the next 60 minutes wasn’t ideal. The Sun Devils were virtually run off the field by Utah, the No. 13 team in the country. Many didn’t expect Arizona State to be competitive in the game. 

To be fair, that wasn’t expected in the Sun Devils’ next two games. The Sun Devils lost to USC and were to face Washington next. 

But all eyes were on Aguano and the morale of the team. So far, he’s passed the eye test. Players have also gravitated toward him and are starting to buy in to a new mentality. 

“Coach Aguano, he worked us this week. Everything he brought, he brought a new juice, new energy,” defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera said. “I think the team really appreciates it. We reacted to it well as a team. We had a good three days of practice. We just didn’t capitalize on a great week of practice. We still believe in everything coach Aguano is saying … we’ve still got a lot more to play for.” 

Still, after the USC loss Oct. 1, ASU President Michael Crow, while praising Aguano and the team, said the search for a permanent coach will continue.

“I was very excited about the game,” Crow said. “I thought coach Aguano did a fantastic job.“

Crow gave no indication he will cut short the search for a permanent head coach to replace Herm Edwards, stating, “We are still a ways from that.”

Overall, players quickly  started to appreciate a new level of discipline that came with Aguano’s coaching style. 

He did the same at Chandler for 20 years, the last seven as the head coach. His teams were always disciplined and this led to success.

 But it did take time. His ability to turn Chandler into a national power wasn’t overnight. 

“I think, ultimately, it is going to take a little time. But I think we had a great week of practice, everybody handled the change very well,” Arizona State defensive back Khoury Bethley said. “Ultimately, I think it just comes down to everybody executing. We didn’t do that today, but we played hard. 

“If you watch this tape, you won’t see no quit from us. We played hard to the end today.”

Just like he was at Chandler, Aguano was animated on the sideline for his first game. He cheered every successful play or penalty against Utah and scoffed at mistakes or flags thrown against his Sun Devils. 

Even when the offense was virtually helpless against a relentless Utah defense, he met every player three yards on the field with high fives and words of encouragement. 

That carried over to the postgame press conference, where he hugged each player after they exited the room. 

“I love you, too,” Aguano whispered to quarterback Emory Jones, who initiated the handshake and hug with his coach that never lost faith in him even after a difficult outing. 

“It’s a family thing for us,” Jones said. “We know we’ve got each other’s back. We’re all in this together.”

Just like in his introductory press conference, Aguano showed passion, humility and emotion. 

He emulates what Arizona State fans want from a head coach – someone who genuinely cares about his players and the program. 

The loss wasn’t an easy one by any means, especially the way it transpired. But Aguano took it on the chin and promised a better showing in the weeks to come. 

He also thanked Sun Devil fans for the support they gave him in what had been a rough week for the team as a whole. 

“This has been a whirlwind week,” Aguano said. “With the Sun Devil walk and (fans) coming to the stadium and all the support they’ve been giving me, I just want to thank them. We’ll get there. I promise you, we’ll get there.

“I am happy and honored to be on this staff and to be the head coach of these kids.”