Herm Edwards’ tenure as ASU’s head coach is over, but why now?
TEMPE — Herm Edwards’ tenure as head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils football team came to an end on Sunday.
“Herm did not resign, he was not dismissed. We agreed to a mutual relinquishment of duties,” ASU vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson said Sunday.
But with the ongoing NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations that saw five assistant coaches leave the program prior to the 2022 college football season, Edwards’ departure seemed to be more of a when than if it would happen. Not to mention the mass exodus in the transfer portal which brought in 43 new players as the high school recruiting efforts tanked.
So following ASU’s 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night, why did Anderson decide now was the correct time to part ways? Especially when most had the team penciled in for a 2-3 record to start the season anyway.
“We had to acknowledge that there has been a pattern unfortunately of when some of the major opportunities were presented, we did not step up and perform at the level we all desire in terms of taking advantage of those opportunities,” he said.
“We were both very disappointed with the performance (Saturday) night,” Anderson added. “And very frankly, the lack of determination in energy and urgency and that was something we both had to acknowledge.”
Both Edwards and quarterback Emory Jones mentioned Saturday after the game that practice during the week lacked the typical attention to detail, which showed multiple times in the loss.
In addition to the nine penalties for 84 yards — a staple of ASU’s self-destruction in recent years — one Jones overthrow and two dropped passes by wide receivers Elijhah Badger and Zeke Freeman saw the Sun Devils miss out on three opportunities for sure-fire touchdowns.
“Reverting back to some of the penalties and just not making big plays in big moments,” Anderson said. “That’s at the end of the day, no matter what you say, the head coach is responsible for developing an environment and a culture and an atmosphere where those things happen. And when you don’t, you have to acknowledge it and be prepared to make tough decisions and move on.”
Running backs coach Shaun Aguano will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season as the Sun Devils head into Pac-12 play with the gauntlet of No. 13 Utah, No. 7 USC and No. 18 Washington on the horizon. All other coaches are “anticipated” to remain in their current roles.
Anderson added that university president Michael Crow was “fully supportive” of his decision to make the head coaching change now on what he called the toughest day in his professional career, given the longtime relationship between the two. Anderson served as Edwards’ agent when the coach was in the NFL ranks.
“The future begins now. Very frankly, our responsibility is to try to infuse new energy, new urgency into the program. … We did not get it done here at the level that any of us aspire to,” Anderson said. “And when it’s time for change, you make the change.
“And so we feel like for this current team, for our future, for our staff, for our university, this is the appropriate change at the appropriate time. And so we’re going to look to get energetic, more urgency. Fresh leadership is frankly the first step in this process.”
Anderson wouldn’t comment on the ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program, but he did say that he would be involved in the “national search” for the team’s future head coach.
He added that Arizona State will be looking for somebody “a little more in tune” with the modern college football landscape that includes NIL deals, the transfer portal, conference realignment and the new age of recruiting both prospects and current players. Anderson also said the new coach “might have to have the youth to deal with this new greed, if you will.”
The football program is “absolutely” in a better spot now than it was five years ago when Edwards was hired, Anderson said.
The vice president of university athletics pointed to academics, training and development as areas in which Arizona State has “made strides” in Edwards’ tenure despite falling well short of the Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl aspirations that were set out upon the hire in 2018.
“We are in better shape,” Anderson said of the football program’s progress over the last five years. “Are we where we wanna be? No. Do we regret the decision (to hire Edwards)? No. Do we regret that we haven’t had more success? Yes.”