Report: Lions' Austin, UM's Hamilton candidates at Arizona State

The Detroit News
Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on the field during practice.

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who has been a candidate for more than a dozen NFL head coaching opportunities, is being mentioned for the opening at Arizona State University.

Austin has 27 years of coaching experience, with half of it coming at the college level. His most recent collegiate job was a one-year stint as Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator at the University of Florida in 2010.

The Arizona State position would be a good fit for Austin, not just professionally, but personally. His wife and children still live in Phoenix.

Austin’s name was mentioned in a USA Today report, following the school’s firing of Todd Graham.

“Arizona State has done background work on candidates, and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is believed to be a high priority should he become available,” according to the report. “(Athletics director Ray) Anderson is also known to be intrigued by coaches with NFL ties, including Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, a Phoenix native, is also someone Arizona State is expected to have some interest in should it decide to fire Graham.”

Austin has routinely declined to talk about his job prospects outside of Detroit. Two weeks ago, Chicago Bears coach John Fox, Austin’s defensive coordinator when he played for Pitt, said it was only a matter of time before his former pupil landed his first head coaching job.

Asked what he had been doing to better prepare himself for the possibility, Austin kept the focus on that week’s opponent.

“We’re trying to win the next game,” Austin said. “We’re just trying to win a game this week. I haven’t thought one thing about that. I can’t. I can’t because as you guys know, I’m still here. It’s been the same question that’s been going on for three years, and I’m still here. So, I’m worried about the next game.”

Austin came to Detroit from Baltimore in 2014 with coach Jim Caldwell. That first season, behind the strong play of the team’s defensive line, led by Ndamukong Suh, the Lions finished in the top five in nearly every meaningful statistical category.

Since Suh’s departure, and the injuries that sidelined and eventually ended star linebacker DeAndre Levy’s time with the team, Austin’s defenses have ranked closer to the middle of the pack. This year, the Lions are 24th in total defense and 19th in scoring.