Herm Edwards on departed ASU coaches: ‘You have to trust’ when delegating
Arizona State head football coach Herm Edwards joined Bickley & Marotta to kick off Arizona Sports’ Newsmakers Week on Tuesday, making his first public comments since the team saw both its offensive and defensive coordinators resign due to their involvement in the program’s recruiting practices that are being investigated by the NCAA.
Edwards addressed the staff losing five coaches, putting together a historically poor recruiting class and the surprising timing of starting quarterback Jayden Daniels entering the transfer portal in the past several weeks.
Below are transcribed questions and answers — edited for clarity and conciseness — between Bickley & Marotta and Edwards.
Bickley & Marotta: A lot has changed wtih your program, Herm, since the last time we spoke. I guess to start the conversation, your general feeling on the health, the condition of the program with all the changes going on:
Edwards: Well, lot of energy in the building, actually. Last Saturday — Saturday now, morning … right about 8:30, LaDarius (Henderson) … he had eight offensive linemen out there. We had a lot of new guys on the offensive line ’cause we went into the portal and decided to try to build our team that way. (They) were out there and working. When you see that, you just kind of smile. You say, ‘OK, I see the intent of these guys and the focus of this football team, which has been very, very good.’
We’re excited about the opportunity and the adding of 25 new players, 16 of those guys new additions in the spring. A lot of those guys as you know came from the portal or (junior college) or grad transfer. We’re excited with the team that we’ve assembled.
Bickley & Marotta: Now you probably know externally there is a lot of noise, and I think some of it began when (defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce) took off, and more came after Jayden decided to go in the transfer portal. You were a very, very popular sports media figure when you came here, now you’ve got people screaming for your head. How are you dealing with that? Do you think that’s fair?
Edwards: I think this as a coach: You realize your No. 1 priority is your team. I’ve always had that mindset. It’s the players in your building and the people in your building. I know this: We’re excited about the players we’ve brought in here, they’re excited about being part of the program. The team that is here with a lot of veteran guys are excited about the guys we’ve brought in. Really, they’re in meetings this morning.
We’re moving on. We’re getting ready for spring football and getting prepared to figure out how this thing’s going to shake out. Going to be a lot of different positions in for competitions because there’s new guys, obviously the quarterback room will be that way. It’s going to be fun to watch.
Bickley & Marotta: One more question on the Jayden Daniels decision — I’m not going to ask you about his path, where he’s going — there’s a lot of people from the outside, Herm, that assumed you were caught way off guard by that whole process. Is that fair to say, that you were surprised by Jayden’s decision, at which time it came?
Edwards: Well, I do know this: Anyone that decides to leave this program for whatever reason, they have the ability to do that now with the portal. I’ve said this and I did this in pro football as well. When you have minicamp sometimes and the veterans don’t show up ’cause of the contracts or whatever, you don’t talk about the guys that aren’t here.
You just talk about the players that are here. That’s just my mindset. … That’s just only fair to the players who are here working every day.
Bickley & Marotta: People who know you best say you’re very, very trusting, you’re very loyal and that your loyalty may have been taken advantage of. Do you feel in any way that is the case based on some of the people who are no longer coaching underneath you?
Edwards: I feel this way, that when you delegate responsibility, you have to trust people. I live in a world like that, I grew up that way. I just think — I don’t micromanage people. I understand what’s going on for the most part, but at the end of the day, football’s about trust, by the way. This game’s built on trust.
When you call a play, it comes in on offense and defense. The people in the circle, you got to trust each other that they’re going to do their job. If they don’t, you can’t run the play. It doesn’t function that way. You guys have watched sports long enough. Sports is all about trust. It’s about the people that you trust that are going to do their jobs correctly and in the right way.
Bickley & Marotta: You bring in Brian Billick in to be part of the staff as a consultant, an analyst. What was that recruiting pitch like from you to Brian Billick for him to be part of the program?
Edwards: We go way back obviously. Our history is kind of: He was at BYU when I left Cal and went to San Diego State. He was a tight end. We played against each other in college, that’s how far we go back, we’re aging ourselves. Our coaching careers been conneted with Brian for some time. Like (special assistant to the head quote) Marvin (Lewis) … you have relationships with people and just felt like at this point in time, to do something with our offense, to give it a spurt and give it an outside look maybe. No different than what Marvin has done here helping us defensively.
Bickley & Marotta: The NCAA investigation clearly has had an effect on recruiting. How do you get out from underneath this and to all Sun Devils fans out there, what is the path forward? How do you get out of this certain, whatever you want to call it, the valley you happen to be in as a program? What is the path forward?
Edwards: Our path is real simple. Even before this transpired, we were going to go into the portal because — it’s the free agency into college football. And when you lose as many players we were going to lose — we had 22 seniors that were going to leave based on the COVID guys (who) came back — when we looked at our football team we said, you know what, we’re going to have to go into the portal, get about 15 to 16 portal players and fill the rest of the roster with the high school players. We got about four scholarships left that we’re going to dabble in the portal … we brought in some guys that have a lot of experience, especially on the offensive line, the tight end position, at the running back position … the secondary, that have played football at programs.
There’s a new thing that goes along with the portal guys, the name image and likeness. I will say this: I think eventually it’ll work its way out but they’re going to have to put a cap on it. They’re going to have to put a cap on it. It’s going to be very difficult for a lot of schools to deal in that world.