ASU to hire West Virginia defensive coordinator Patterson
FEB 06, 2014 1:52p ET
Patterson replaces Joe Lorig, who was announced Thursday as Utah State's new linebackers coach after a troubling season at the helm of ASU's special teams, and reunites with ASU coach Todd Graham after two seasons apart.
According to the source, Patterson will have a prominent defensive title at ASU and Graham will cede some defensive duties to him while focusing more on head coaching responsibilities. Patterson will also play a role in special teams, though those duties will be shared among multiple coaches.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen on Thursday confirmed Patterson's voluntary departure.
"I want to thank Keith for his two years that he spent coaching in our program," Holgorsen said in a statement. "He was a valuable member of our staff, and we wish him nothing but the best."
Patterson and Graham were roommates and played together as defensive backs at East Central (Okla.) University, where both later served as assistant coaches. Patterson first served under Graham at Allen (Texas) High School in 1995-96 and again in 2000. He then coached with Graham at Tulsa as linebackers coach when Graham was defensive coordinator. When Graham took over at Tulsa in 2007, Patterson was made co-defensive coordinator.
Patterson followed Graham to Pittsburgh in 2011 and served as co-defensive coordinator for a defense that ranked third in the nation in sacks. When Graham left Pitt to take the ASU job in December 2011, he reportedly offered Patterson a position at ASU, but Patterson declined in order to become interim head coach and lead the Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
In 2012, Patterson joined the West Virginia staff as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He was the team's lone defensive coordinator in 2013.
While West Virginia's defense ranked 108th nationally in yards allowed last season and 101st the year before, Patterson and Graham had some success together at Tulsa. Their best defense their ranked 74th in the nation, and in 2010 the defense led the nation in interceptions and ranked third in turnovers gained.
Lorig came under fire more than once during the 2013 season as ASU's special-teams units struggled, most prominently in an ugly-early season loss to Stanford, again versus Stanford in the Pac-12 title game and against Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
Graham addressed the special-teams issue immediately following the Holiday Bowl loss.
"We have a lot of things to work on on special teams," Graham said. "That will be dealt with immediately, and that will be something I take a personal interest in. That has killed our team. We've lost three ballgames this year because of that."
Graham's comments seemed to suggest a looming personnel move, and it's possible Lorig was encouraged to look at other jobs. Coincidentally, Wells worked on the same staff with Graham at Tulsa as the school's tight ends coach.
Lorig had been on ASU's staff for both of Graham's seasons in Tempe. Last season, he was given complete control of special teams. The previous season, special-teams duties were shared among multiple coaches.