It’s a good thing that Arizona State Athletic Director Lisa Love didn’t give
head football coach Dennis Erickson a contract extension after that big 43-
22 win over USC in the fourth game of the season or after the win over
Utah put ASU in the driver’s seat of the Pac-12 South with a 5-1 record.
Because after back-to-back inexcusable losses, Erickson’s time in the
desert needs to be over. While the loss to a bad UCLA team was bad
enough, the loss Saturday night in Pullman to Washington State is
incomprehensible, absolutely inexcusable.
It’s not just that Washington State is a bad team, it’s a bad program. The
Cougars haven’t had a winning season since 2003, their head coach — who is
likely to be fired — Paul Wulff, has a record of 9-38 in three years. In the past
three years they have averaged 2.7, 2.4 and 2.3 yards per carry so they
can’t run. In the past three seasons they have given up an average of 248,
236 and 220 yards on the ground so they can’t stop the run.
So when Arizona State couldn’t move the ball on the ground against this
team something is really wrong. Even San Diego State, which beat the
Cougars by 18 earlier in the season, put up 500 yards and 227 rushing
How Washington State can have a redshirt freshman who was third-string a
few months ago come off the bench and light ASU up for almost 500 yards
is mind-bogging. Conner Halliday’s 494 yards passing with no
interceptions and four TD passes was the most yards ever put up by a
Washington State quarterback in a winning effort. Leave it to the Devils to
let some kid come out of nowhere and make him look like Andrew Luck.
Somehow, ASU allowed 223 yards receiving to Marquess Wilson, 155 to
Isiah Barton and 63 to Jared Karstetter. Needless to say, the Sun Devils
secondary forgot to make the trip to this game as that was absolutely the
most pathetic performance by this defense this season and possibly one of
the worst in the Erickson era.
You can make the argument that Arizona State can still come out on top in
the Pac-12 South and you may be right. But does it really matter now? This
was supposed to be a special season with 17 starters back, a slew of
seniors and seven home games on the schedule. Now with losses to Oregon, to
a very average Illinois team and to bad teams in UCLA and Washington
State, this season is anything but special. Even if they find a way to beat out
UCLA and Utah all they are doing is earning the right to get slaughtered by
Erickson is 64 years old and has one year left on his contract. With one year
left it is almost impossible to recruit so he is either getting a contract extension, getting fired or retiring with a year left on his deal. With a
record at Arizona State of 31-28, it is obvious that the Sun Devils under
Erickson are very mediocre and with new Pac-12 television money coming
in and lots of empty seats at Sun Devils home games, it is time to find a
coach that can do more than be average.
Arizona State as a university has to decide just how bad they want to win in
football. Do they want to make the commitment necessary to be relevant or
are they content just being mediocre? Right now it’s hard to believe that
they want to be great. It’s hard to believe that they care enough about
Firing Erickson will be a start in telling its fans that they no longer want to
settle for mediocrity.