Herm Edwards has officially been the head coach at Arizona State for 11 days. After losing both coordinators over the past three days, the new Devils coach is off to a hellish start.
You have to wonder if Edwards is starting to second guess his decision to leave ESPN. His first press conference gave the impression he wasn't too sure he knew where he had signed up to coach.
Herm Edwards at his introductory press conference : "Devils Digest? I'm Catholic now, I'm Christian. Watch out for them devils." Apparently he doesn't realize the new football team he's coaching are called THE SUN 'DEVILS.' pic.twitter.com/fpRVx1kGUy
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) December 4, 2017
Arizona State is home to the Sun Devils, which makes Devils Digest a seemingly innocent and rather benign media outlet. Which left many to question…was Edwards kidding? The answer was a resounding, "I don't think so."
Even after taking the job and probably realizing he was now the coach of the Devils, Edwards went back to Bristol to receive a hero's send off complete with tearful goodbyes and sappy montages–while the rest of the nation's coaching staffs went to work in hopes of bringing in prized recruits.
The former Jets coach was already facing an uphill climb after he was hired under delicate circumstances. Former head coach Todd Graham had just led Arizona State to an upset win over in-state rival Arizona. His firing a shock to many.
Arizona State went 7-5 in 2017, but finished 6-3 in the Pac-12 South, second best in the division. In six years as coach, Graham went 46-31 with a 31-23 conference record. The Devils won one division title (2013) and had two 10-win seasons (2013, 2014). Edwards, on the other hand had, uh, lack of college football coaching experience, as Andrew Doughty detailed.
One year after concluding his professional playing career, Edwards returned to his home state of California to become defensive backs coach at San Jose State in 1987. He remained in that position through the 1989 season, at which time he left to become a scout with the Chiefs.
Athletic director Ray Graham assured everyone involved that the new head coach would keep the current coordinators. It's plausible to believe Edwards took the job knowing the two would be there to maintain some sort of consistency for the current players as well as ongoing recruiting efforts. Maybe even do most of the work for Edwards, with the former Chiefs coach acting as more of a figurehead and motivational speaker (obviously) than head football coach.
It seemed to be working.
That is until defensive coordinator Phil Bennett decided to take a leave of absence last week.
Then it was announced that offensive coordinator Billy Napier was leaving Tempe to take the head coaching job at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. There's also speculation that Napier will be taking current wide receivers coach Rob Sale–a Louisiana native–with him.
So far no one has left the program–outside of its top three coaches. Edwards released a statement to try and stop all of Arizona from engaging in mass hysteria.
“I can assure all Sun Devil fans that I am working diligently on hiring a coaching staff that will fit what we are trying to accomplish at ASU, led by an incredible senior quarterback in Manny Wilkins,” Edwards’ statement read. “Assistant head coach and running backs coach John Simon and co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Rob Likens will be a part of my staff going forward.”
What comes next for ASU's team and its staff as it prepares for the Sun Bowl against North Carolina State is completely up in the air. If Edwards is as good a college coach as he is a motivational speaker, we know what will happen once they field a staff and team to play the game.
Unfortunately, it's a very big if at this point.