Arizona State defensive line coach Grady Stretz is among those focused on in an NCAA investigation into potential rules violations at New Mexico in 2004 and ’05.
An ASU spokesman said on Saturday that the school does not comment on an ongoing NCAA investigation. Stretz is in his second season on the Sun Devils’ staff after working at New Mexico from 1998-2005, coaching defensive linemen for five years and safeties for three.
The probe centers on three assistant coaches — two of which are no longer at New Mexico, athletic director Paul Krebs said during a Friday press conference — who allegedly helped five players fraudulently gain course credit at another school in order to be eligible to play for the Lobos.
“This involves three individuals who, on their own, committed what are alleged to be ethical violations,” Krebs said. “There have been no allegations leveled at the university. No allegations of lack of institutional control.”
New Mexico coach Rocky Long, whose team defeated Arizona 29-27 in Tucson on Saturday, is not a focus of the investigation, which has been ongoing for about a year. The school’s hearing before the NCAA infractions committee is in the spring, and a verdict will be rendered then.
Stretz, 34, is a 1991 graduate of Tempe McClintock High who played at UCLA. He is one of two members of former ASU coach Dirk Koetter’s staff — cornerbacks coach Al Simmons is the other — retained by Dennis Erickson.
Star running back Ryan Torain watched Saturday’s contest from the bench in street clothes, resting a tender ankle. Tight end Brent Miller dressed but did not play due to a knee injury.
“We’ve got guys who have to fill in,” Erickson said. “It will be like that all season, at every position. The bottom line for a good football team is when guys get hurt, other guys have to come in and play, whether they’re a freshman, senior or whatever.”
The Sun Devils made a change to their starting defense on Saturday, but it was not the one some expected. Though he lost first-team practice plays at free safety to Jeremy Payton in the days before the game, Josh Barrett started the game.
So did sophomore Gerald Munns at middle linebacker. Munns, who received a nearequal amount of plays as starter Morris Wooten during the first two games, had little time to savor his reward, suffering a left knee injury early in the first quarter.
Terry Ennis, a close friend of Erickson’s and the second-most winningest high school football coach in Washington, died on Wednesday after a five-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 63.
Ennis, who won 287 games and three state championships, was coaching at Archbishop Murphy High in Seattle.
“Terry was a couple years ahead of me in high school, so I idolized him,” Erickson said. “He had been battling cancer for a few years and coached on the Friday (before his death). He coached until the end. He was a special person, special to a lot of kids.”
Erickson said that he tried to hire Ennis as an assistant more than once, but “high school was where he wanted to coach, and he did it well.”
Erickson was impressed with San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell, a senior who showed good arm strength and mobility in completing 22-of-28 for 180 yards and an interception.
“In talking with people, he is probably going to be drafted very high,” Erickson said. “He’s big, has a great arm and can move. He’s got some skill and can create problems, so you have to get a pass rush on him.”
Thomas Weber’s 48-yard field goal in the second quarter was ASU’s longest since Jesse Ainsworth hit a 48-yarder against Iowa on Sept. 18, 2004.