ASU presents Herm Edwards and a new organizational structure
TEMPE – The state of Arizona not only introduced Herm Edwards as its 24th head football coach, but also a new organizational structure that looks more like the NFL than college football.
All eyes are on what the Sun Devils have called their new model of leadership.
On Monday, Edwards was joined in his introductory press conference by University President Michael Crow and Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson as well as former and current ASU football players. The very energetic Edwards answered questions with passion and a bit of humor familiar to viewers who watched him on ESPN. He is honored to have the job, he said.
“I’m proud to be the head coach here, and I promise you that, whatever I have, and I have a lot, I will work tirelessly and commit to Dr. Crow’s vision and Ray Anderson, “Edwards said.
For many, ASU started the curve with rentals. The last time Edwards was a head coach was in 2008 when he led the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL to a 2-14 record. The last time he was a college coach was in 1989, when he was a defensive assistant.
Although he had been a coach for almost a decade, he had not left football. He has been an NFL analyst since 2009 for ESPN, where he will stay until Friday before embarking on recruiting. He’s also coached the last eight Under Armor All-American Games, which feature the nation’s top high school players.
Anderson said that after a “long and eventful week” he is proud of his decision and believes Edwards is the coach who can take ASU to the next level.
“The competitive consistency in game performance and results frankly did not live up to our expectations,” said Anderson, “and after four years of evaluating all of the work, I have to… make the difficult decision that I truly believe to be the best interest of this university and this football program in the future.
“But I want you to know that ASU football is not a reconstruction of anyone. It is not a startup. It is not a restart. We have to take a new step in the regularity of the competition and I think Herman Edwards can take us there. “
Although some have criticized his age, Edwards, 63, said it won’t hold him back and believes he can turn young athletes into men “equipped to deal with what happens in the real world.”
It will address players in the state, he said, but also elite prospects outside Arizona.
“Athletes from all over the country, whether here locally, should come back here,” said Edwards. “The guys from California and Los Angeles should come here. Why is it not the destination? Why can’t he be? It’s my job.
“It’s my job to go to these houses and tell these parents that this is the place where you want to send your son because when he leaves here he will be like one of these (elders football students) standing here. He will be fully prepared to deal with whatever comes his way. He will become a student-athlete and you will have an excellent player base here. You have a great community of people who support this university.
ASU’s “new model of leadership” was inspired by Anderson and Crow who were tired of the traditional model producing “very frankly unsatisfactory and mostly mediocre results,” Anderson said.
Edwards, said Anderson, will serve as CEO “with a collaborative staff around him who will improve the performance of players and coaches on the field, in the classroom and in our community,” with support from many different sides. This support will not only come from the coaches, but also from the administrative side of Anderson, Associate Senior Executive Director of Sports Jean Boyd and Associate Senior Director of Sports Scottie Graham.
On the athletics side, Senior Associate Athletic Director Tim Cassidy “will help manage day-to-day operations, as well as a variety of staff responsible for player development, player staff and recruiting, among other areas.” according to a press release issued by ASU. Crow thinks Edwards is the guy who “can take our new model forward” who will “coach and manage our team”.
“It will be an ‘all on deck’ effort to improve football in the same way that we have improved some of our other sports,” said Anderson. “So it will be a collaboration. We will not have a structure where the head coach will or will have to control everything and do everything. We want to recruit, we want to coach, we want to develop, then we want to rise. That’s what we’re going to get with Herman Edwards.
The reason for the change was clarified when Anderson announced his decision to fire coach Todd Graham. He. said that “7-5 and second in the Pac-12 South” is not good enough. He wants the program to be a Pac-12 Top 3 team and a Nationwide Top 15 team every year.
Is it sufficient?
Jon Wilner, longtime Pac-12 reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, said in an email that ASU is a “second level program, with largely untapped potential.” The Sun Devils have had enough success (under Frank Kush and Bruce Snyder) that people think they could be more successful more often. This view, of course, overlooks some of the inherent challenges. “
Since Kush, the program has pursued similar success, but no coach has been able to maintain what Anderson called “competitive consistency.” The last two closest coaches – Bruce Snyder (1992-2000) and Graham (2011-2016) – both ended up out of work.
“I think having high expectations is great because that’s what you’re aiming for, isn’t it? Former ASU offensive lineman Kyle Murphy said. “That’s how you become an athlete at this level. That’s how you become a coach at this level, with high expectations.
“And then you have to go get them and attack and maybe if you fail you’re pretty darn close, but I think you have to be ranked consistently before you can start talking about the Top 15 in my opinion.”
He said he believed the Sun Devils could make it happen, but that they were “closer to (Graham) running this staff than we necessarily would be to Coach Edwards, just from a familiarity.
“It takes time to get used to working with people,” Murphy said.
Edwards and Anderson strongly believe in the new model of leadership.
“There’s no way anyone can tell me… we can’t do it in football,” Anderson said. “In fact, we’re going to do it in football. So what I would tell you is that football train is leaving the station and for all the skeptics who for some reason can’t commit to getting on now, that’s okay. We understand. We are not going to take it personally. But as this train continues on its way uphill, if for some reason at any point you decide that you now want to get on board then jump on board because we have a place for you.
“I want to be a part of it,” Edwards said. “By the way, I’m on the train. I’m on the train, and I’m going to ride it. I’ll take the train until it stops and it won’t stop. We’re going, we’re going with you. If you want to get on a bit later, we have a seat, as Ray said.
“We have a place. It may not be comfortable, but we have a seat.