Takeaways from Bickley & Marotta’s 1st foray into Newsmakers Week

Feb 25, 2022, 1:35 PM | Updated: 1:42 pm

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils before the NCAAF game against the Washingto...

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils before the NCAAF game against the Washington State Cougars at Sun Devil Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Even after interviews with head football coach Herm Edwards, university president Dr. Michael Crow and vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson, I’m more perplexed than I’ve ever been about the stance and direction of Arizona State football.

Part of me wants to believe that Dr. Crow’s position that Edwards did nothing wrong in recruiting, had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and was undermined by bad actors is true. But even if that were the case, how could the university back a coach that woefully unaware of the beefed up COVID-19 restrictions applied to the recruiting process? I can’t get past that. Knowing about the rules and skirting them is bad. Not knowing the rules isn’t any better.

I also found it interesting that Crow opined that the football program is making progress. The results offered by Edwards’ program (on the field, recruiting snafu aside) feel a lot like what the results Todd Graham’s teams offered in his last three years on the job, and those were deemed not good enough (and Graham didn’t leave the program in the midst of a major recruiting investigation).

When pressed about his edict that ASU football should be perennially top three in the Pac-12 and top 15 nationally when he hired Edwards, Anderson said he never offered a timetable on those goals, suggesting that four years isn’t long enough to accomplish them. I don’t agree with that. Hiring a then-63-year-old coach would suggest that a quick ascension was expected.

ASU ruffled feathers four years ago with the Edwards hire and adoption of a “pro model” of program hierarchy. Four years later, they’re already revamping their own invented methodology.

I fear that Sun Devil football is doomed to a future of being slightly better than mediocre with occasional blips of real contention — you know, like the history of the program since they joined the Pac-10 in 1978.

Is everything copacetic?

I appreciate the comments of Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, who detailed (somewhat) conversations with quarterback Kyler Murray and voiced a real confidence in him moving forward.

I tend to think the reports about Arizona’s perceived scapegoating of Murray and the quarterback’s frustration with the organization were born out of frustration and embarrassment on the heels of their playoff loss to the Rams.

Cooler heads have prevailed. At least, let’s hope they have.

Solid ground?

It’s hard for me not to feel more confident in the Coyotes’ future in Arizona. Of course, securing the necessary support to build their “forever home” in Tempe is still a major concern, but Xavier Gutierrez’s assuredness on the matter was reassuring.

From the on-ice perspective, I believe the Coyotes put the right people in place in general manager Bill Armstrong and head coach Andre Tourigny. Armstrong seems to have a real grasp on the rebuild he’s been empowered to lead, and Tourigny’s coaching philosophy seems to mesh well with the young players the Coyotes will be rebuilding with.

Under pressure

Cue the Queen/David Bowie track… Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard has a lot on her plate in her first head coaching job. Jim Pitman and the Merc are the WNBA’s version of the Los Angeles Rams; they’re going all in to win a title this season. By bringing back the core of a team that nearly won a title and adding the league’s leading scorer in Tina Charles and another All-Star in Diamond DeShields, anything less than a title won’t be acceptable.

That’s quite the challenge for any coach, let alone a first-year boss. Pitman’s deliberate process of finding a new coach had no less than 20 candidates, and he’s confident Nygaard is the right one.

Extra points

– I didn’t get the impression that the Cardinals will be getting new uniforms anytime soon. I did get the impression that Bidwill is tired of the subject of on-field fashion.

– Talking with James Jones and Monty Williams only bolsters confidence that the Suns are on their way to winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time this June. Both men exude competence and expertise.

– I’d be surprised if Jakob Chychrun is a member of the Coyotes once the NHL Trade Deadline expires. Armstrong’s admission that he’s taken (taking?) a lot of calls about the 23-year-old defenseman was telling. The interest might be too much for Armstrong to resist.

– Another bummer about the MLB lockout: We missed out on the opportunity to talk to Derrick Hall, Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo of the D-backs. Here’s hoping that the two sides can get together and give fans a full baseball season.

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Takeaways from Bickley & Marotta’s 1st foray into Newsmakers Week