Rapid Reaction: On Herm Edwards and ASU’s curious coaching search
It’s not a done deal, not even close.
Arizona State’s coaching search for its football program is just days old, but as names have been floated, one has stood out. Herm Edwards confirmed he will meet with ASU Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson to talk about the opening.
It’s selling it short to call the reaction to Edwards’ candidacy vibrant — and not in the positive way. In any case, it’s been a wild week since Todd Graham was fired after winning the Territorial Cup.
Here’s how our show hosts and reporters are viewing the many storylines surrounding the ASU football program.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
I’m waiting for Ray Anderson to hold a press conference to talk about fan affinity advancement only to have Ashton Kutcher pop out from behind a curtain to tell all of Sun Devil Nation it’s been punked.
I didn’t agree with the firing of Todd Graham, but to me, what’s transpired since Sunday is beyond frustrating. Not only have you erased the euphoria of recapturing the Territorial Cup, but you’ve planted a seed of doubt among your fan base about your plan moving forward.
Herm Edwards is a buddy of Ray Anderson’s and I’m not naïve enough to think that people who hire don’t give advantages to candidates they’re familiar with. But this candidate has been packed away in coaching moth balls since 2008 and hasn’t been on a college staff since George Bush was president — the first George Bush!
The fact that Edwards is talking openly about this opportunity to the media does indicate to me that he’s probably not that serious a candidate, but he’s a public one. The time and effort to interview him for this position is a waste of time, in my opinion. And why is Anderson waiting until the weekend to have Edwards fly out here for an interview when he could easily travel to the east coast to interview him before the weekend? My guess is that the golfing conditions in Bristol, Connecticut aren’t exactly ideal at this time of the year.
The clock is ticking on ASU and Ray Anderson. If you have your candidate picked out – and it’s an NFL assistant like everyone thinks – just wait. Don’t parade your pals around to distract us from the running meter.
If Edwards is the guy, I don’t know what to say.
Craig Morgan, reporter
The process by which Arizona State has hired its last two football coaches has been strange theater.
In 2011, coach June Jones’ agent, Leigh Steinberg, tweeted play-by-play of negotiations with the university, but ASU pulled the plug on that decision due to enormous backlash from boosters, and officials later denied anything serious was ever in the works before they settled on Todd Graham.
On Wednesday, Herm Edwards, a former client of Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that he would likely interview for the vacant job this weekend.
Was it misdirection while Anderson zeroed in on another candidate? Was it a trial balloon by the athletic department to gauge reaction? If so, the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative for a guy who hasn’t coached since 2008 and hasn’t coached college since 1989.
Wherever this story goes, it is highly unusual to see it play out so publicly, and it runs counter to Anderson’s previous tactics. When it comes to coaching searches, ASU sure knows how to capture national attention.
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
I have always found Ray Anderson to be an extremely thoughtful and purposeful leader, and because of that I’m truly trying to give him the wiggle room that he deserves on this decision. His brilliant hire of Bobby Hurley demands that.
That being said, the last four days have lacked both thought and purpose, so I’m finding it difficult.
Herm Edwards to me is too far out of the box. He wasn’t a particularly good NFL coach. He’s been removed from the day-to-day grind of coaching for far too long and has no experience as a head man at the college level. The strong suggestion that the new head coach keep the current assistants is a mandate that eliminates the best candidates, and Edwards’ willingness to live up to that mandate suggests that he is not among the best candidates.
He’s going to be easy to recruit against. The fact that Anderson used to be his agent adds another degree of difficulty for both men. And frankly, with the impossibly high bar set by Anderson, the pressure is going to be on the next coach to live up to that standard right away. That learning curve is too steep for the uninitiated.
Edwards is a man of great passion and character, but I don’t think that’s enough. My hope is that this is a smoke screen designed to throw us of the true trail.
Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf
Three opinions that are all wrapped together:
1) I disagree with the firing of Todd Graham. The program was so far behind when he took over and it’s in a much better place. I think he deserved one more year, but I’m not standing on the soap box. I completely understand why many would disagree with me.
2) There isn’t a big enough soap box for me to stand on to represent my disagreement with Ray Anderson on keeping Graham’s staff. This isn’t positive or negative about the current coaching staff at ASU. It’s not about the guys you have; it’s about the GUY you can’t get because of the decision to keep the guys you have. You can’t bring in the best candidate if you’re keeping the staff! No coach who’s on their way up the ladder — or is at the top of the ladder — is going to accept a job with the old coach’s staff. Are the coach’s loyal to you, the old coach or the AD that kept them? Are the players loyal to you or their position coach? Keeping the old staff brings up more questions than it answers.
3) Since Ray Anderson could care less about my first two opinions, I’m totally in favor of hiring Herm Edwards. If I’m the AD, I’m beating down every door of all the supposed ASU fans that say they support the program and telling them to pony up the cash for Les Miles. Since I’m not the AD, and I’m working under the conditions set forth by the AD, I like Herm Edwards.
Luke Lapinski, Host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski
This whole situation has just gotten needlessly weird. And for no apparent reason.
Just a quick reminder — ASU won the Territorial Cup a few days ago and the basketball team is undefeated and nationally ranked for the first time this decade. But Sun Devil fans aren’t even getting the chance to really enjoy either of those accomplishments because this coaching search has taken such an odd turn.
Personally, I wouldn’t have fired Todd Graham. Not this season, anyway. A year ago, it was totally justified and the pressure to find a potentially great replacement wouldn’t have been nearly as intense. But Graham re-raised the bar that the next guy will have to clear a little on his way out the door. And then Ray Anderson lifted that bar to the sky when he addressed the media on Sunday.
I actually seem to be one of the few people that isn’t put off by Anderson’s lofty expectations for the program. Why not go all out? Problem is, there really aren’t any big time guys available right now — another reason I might have given Graham one more year.
If you’re going to make those proclamations though, you have to deliver. And I’m intrigued by a Charlie Strong or a Kevin Sumlin. Maybe they’re not a definite step up from Graham at first glance, but they’re at least even with him, while offering some potential upside. And ultimately, Graham’s already gone now anyway. So if those are the best guys out there that you might be able to get, then you need to go get one of them.
What I’m not intrigued by is Herm Edwards. Honestly, I’m not even all that fired up for a coordinator who has never been a head coach at the college level before, either. But the Edwards rumors, in particular, just make no sense. And it’s not a knock on Herm as a person. I like him on TV, he seems like a decent guy and I don’t doubt he’d be a good influence on the players as people. Can we just keep him around the program, but not as the head coach?
So the issue isn’t even entirely with Edwards, though his lack of any coaching experience in the last 10 years — or 30 years, if you’re just looking at college — is, um, concerning. It’s more the notion that they would fire Graham and shake everything up just to hire someone that doesn’t even appear to be on anyone else’s radar. And if it’s all just misdirection to take the attention off of who they’re really going to hire, well, why? Is there some secret candidate out there who’s so amazing that it would ruin everything if one of us figured out who he was? There really aren’t that many programs looking for coaches right now.
I have a lot of respect for Anderson, and he has pretty consistently come off as intelligent in his time at ASU. The Bobby Hurley hire, in particular, was extremely impressive. But there’s suddenly a lot riding on this decision — both for Sun Devil athletics and for him individually, as the man in charge.
Mike Jurecki, Co-host of The Blitz with B-Train and Jurecki
Since Arizona State hired Arizona State University’s Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, he’s quickly hired a stable of quality people for the athletic department.
Anderson decided it was time to make a change with head coach Todd Graham after six seasons and instead of using a search firm to find a replacement will instead tap into Hall of Famer Tony Dungy and former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards as consultants. Edwards, however, confirmed he is a candidate himself.
Edwards will win the press conference if hired and is a smooth talker — the problem is he hasn’t coached since 2008 and spent the last nine years working at ESPN. The biggest question is, “why now?” Other issues could recruiting in state or outside the Arizona. A lot of high school players don’t have an idea what Edwards has accomplished during his coaching career, but I’m sure they can Google or YouTube some of his latest rants.
Anderson has maintained that he’s looking for head coaching experience. He also said a candidate should consider retaining some of the leftovers from Graham’s staff like offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, who both did a good job this past season.
It’s not even a close comparison of resumes when you consider Kevin Sumlin’s 51-26 record at Texas A&M in a difficult conference. The other guy that deserves consideration is Charlie Strong, who is currently at South Florida after being let go by Texas.
If the Sun Devils wanted a to hire a motivational speaker, Tony Robbins is available at an hourly rate.
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