Setting ground rules for hiring ASU football’s next head coach

Oct 25, 2022, 3:35 PM
Arizona State University president Michael Crow interviews with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona'...
Arizona State University president Michael Crow interviews with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station on Feb. 13, 2020. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The next head football coach at Arizona State:

  • Will be one of the most important hires in the history of the university.
  • Must recognize opportunity inside the chaos, bringing to life a new kind of blueprint in Tempe.
  • Must build a program that becomes a dominant force in a weakened conference, the bigger fish in a smaller pond.

When all defections are complete, when San Diego State and Boise State are officially christened as new members of a marginalized Pac-12, there will be pangs of separation and isolation, maybe even a sense of desperation. There will be less status and greater income disparity.

There will also be a great opportunity for the Sun Devils to punch annual tickets to the College Football Playoff, which is soon expanding to 12 teams. It will happen no later than 2026, maybe as soon as 2024, and likely include automatic berths for six conference champions.

And by the time it happens, ASU will have served a good chunk, if not all, of its incoming NCAA prison sentence.

The next head football coach at Arizona State:

  • Must not be hired by Ray Anderson, the vice president for university athletics who needs to be held accountable for the Herm Edwards debacle, who cannot be part of any reclamation project.
  • Must possess hair on fire, metaphorically speaking.
  • Must understand that ASU will never sway 5-star recruits from attending Alabama or Georgia and will never build a CFP team by hyper-focusing on homegrown talent in Arizona. But for many reasons, the school has everything it needs to be the No. 1 destination inside the transfer portal, for disgruntled and displaced athletes beaten out in positional battles at the finest football factories in America.
  • Must have a presence in Southern California because not all West Coast recruits are following Lincoln Riley to the Big Ten. Many have parents who will not and cannot travel to the Midwest every weekend. Arizona State can become a surrogate program of choice.

There is hope that Arizona State University president Michael Crow has finally seen the light, realizing that no amount of innovation can vault a football program to the top of college athletics. It takes real commitment and real resources.

With all due respect, it must mean more than the wrestling team.

Crow has succeeded in charting a bold new vision and footprint for ASU. But he’s failed dramatically at football. He was wrong in his unyielding support of Larry Scott, the former Pac-12 commissioner who talked a good game and sold a big dream. And he was wrong in allowing Anderson to hire former client Edwards, blind to the folly and the obvious conflicts of interest, arrogant to think ASU could outmaneuver the greatest football institutions in America.

There’s a myth about rock bottom. It doesn’t always get better from here.

Opponents rarely help you off the ground in football, and you can always linger longer in the basement. Meanwhile, the “sleeping giant” moniker is no longer viewed as a backhanded compliment in these parts. It is now a source of mockery for a football program that can’t even cheat its way to the top.

It’s about time ASU gets it right.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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Setting ground rules for hiring ASU football’s next head coach