DAN BICKLEY

Why both Kingsbury, Edwards will remain the Valley’s football coaches

Nov 28, 2021, 7:00 PM
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals reacts at head linesman Jerry Bergman #91 after...
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals reacts at head linesman Jerry Bergman #91 after a call during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on November 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Silly season has arrived for football coaches. It’s a wonderful time to be Kliff Kingsbury and Herm Edwards.

Once in the firing line, both men will keep their jobs after this season. One of them is getting his second mulligan in two seasons. The other might be getting a chunky pay raise.

Eleven games into his season of redemption in Arizona, Kingsbury’s name has surfaced as a figure of interest in Oklahoma’s head coaching search. The news felt like a looming threat to many Cardinals fans, which symbolizes a stunning shift in perception. The news was surely leaked by Kingsbury’s agent, a ploy to capitalize on his client’s surging popularity before the heavy lifting begins in December.

It’s another crazy twist of good fortune for a head coach who was fired by his alma mater at Texas Tech and somehow became a hot commodity in the NFL; who underperformed in his first two seasons, earning the hottest seat in the league, only to be the favorite for NFL Coach of the Year.

Kingsbury may ultimately prove worthy of his good fortune. But his luck and survival skills are Hall of Fame caliber.

There was also a time when agents knew better than to try such a maneuver with the Bidwill family, and how it would make Michael’s contrarian father dig in his heels and fight to the bitter end on principle alone. And if I were running the organization, I would not be swayed by the Oklahoma rumors.

Kingsbury has done a tremendous job in 2021. No argument there. He gets a slice of credit for the team’s stellar camaraderie; two slices for orchestrating two crucial victories with Colt McCoy; and another three slices for staying true to himself while reinventing the entire offense. There is very little Air Raid happening in Arizona.

Kingsbury’s performance has been buoyed by General Manager Steve Keim, who shot at all the right targets in the offseason, seeking physicality, internal leadership and veteran playmakers. He shrewdly filled in many of Kingsbury’s blind spots. He’s the guy who deserves a contract extension after the season.

The head coach also benefitted from the ascendance and maturity of Kyler Murray, who looks like a perennial MVP candidate. And for my money, Kingsbury still must prove he can finish the job on a good season in progress.

Over the past eight seasons, Kingsbury’s teams have finished 2-5 (2020, Arizona); 2-7 (2019, Arizona); 0-5 (2018, Texas Tech); 2-6, (2017, Texas Tech); 2-6 (2016, Texas Tech); 2-4 (2015, Texas Tech); 2-8 (2014 Texas Tech); and 1-5 (2013, Texas Tech). I need to see how much things have really changed when the temperature gets really hot.

There’s no rush. In college football, there are only a handful of great jobs and programs on autopilot. Oklahoma isn’t one of them, and now they’re joining the SEC gauntlet. That means Kingsbury would have to leave and replace the best recruiter he’s ever had (Keim), dealing with a new world of NILs and transfer portals while competing against the most maniacal head coaches in the industry.

Bottom line: Kingsbury is not leaving his Paradise Valley mansion and a franchise quarterback on the ground floor for a paper windfall in Norman, Oklahoma. The Cardinals can wait this one out.

As for Arizona State:

The announced return of Herm Edwards will not make fans or boosters happy. The timing of the declaration seems farcically attached to the temporary glow of the Territorial Cup victory. Their 8-4 record is little consolation for a season that once seemed liked their big shot, when ASU had everything it needed to make the College Football Playoff. It was their window of opportunity to change the calculus before USC finally did something smart, like hiring Lincoln Riley. And they failed.

Edwards did little in 2021 to warrant extended patience. It’s an admission that ASU President Dr. Michael Crow believes that Edwards wasn’t fully aware of the alleged transgressions of illegally hosting recruits during a pandemic; or that he doesn’t believe the NCAA; or that he doesn’t care about a toothless entity losing its grip on college athletics.

More likely, Edwards is being retained for reasons other than taking ASU to the top of the Pac-12 standings. He’s being retained to guide ASU through a bottom that happened on his watch; to serve out his contract; to endure what the NCAA decrees and help get his school out of their current recruiting jail; and of course, to save costs at a time when it would be very expensive to buy out Edwards and his staff while hiring an impact coach and a brand new legion of assistants.

Seriously, who wants to take the ASU job now, with all the lingering clouds and red flags?

Only a man on a hot seat, the incumbent who will be hoping for his own Kingsbury redemption story in 2022.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta Mornings weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Dan Bickley

24 Jul 2000:  A general view of the plaques dedicated to the Legends of Baseball at the Baseball Ha...
Dan Bickley

Baseball Hall of Fame should have Bonds, Clemens, Rose in

The Baseball Hall of Fame passed on the chance to have Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens inducted once again on Tuesday.
18 hours ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the NFL game ...
Dan Bickley

Lessons the Cardinals need to learn from 49ers-Rams NFC title matchup

To the Valley’s dismay, the NFC Championship game will be a showcase for two NFC West teams, neither of which are the Cardinals.
3 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second half against the Sea...
Dan Bickley

Level of Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job security troublesome

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is receiving a level of job security that is extremely rare in the NFL.
8 days ago
Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during warmups before the game against...
Dan Bickley

Kliff Kingsbury has to go after Cardinals’ embarrassing loss to Rams

It’s time for a change. A new plan. A new head coach. And to complete the reboot, the team should unveil a host of brand new uniforms.
10 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball during the third quarter against the Dall...
Dan Bickley

Arizona Cardinals need to unleash Kyler Murray’s legs in playoffs

The Arizona Cardinals have a secret weapon they can turn to in the playoffs and they should utilize it to maximize their quarterback.
16 days ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray jogs off the field after an NFL football game loss to th...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals on wrong side of history after letting NFC West title slip away

History isn’t always pretty. The Cardinals made it anyway. They lost a football game and the NFC West title, falling 38-30 to the Seahawks.
18 days ago
Why both Kingsbury, Edwards will remain the Valley’s football coaches