Herm Edwards’ career as Arizona State’s head football coach began with swagger, including doses of optimism, and ended on Sunday amid a downward spiral of off-field troubles and poor play.
Edwards’ tenure as coach ended with a humiliating loss, like so many others in college football, under the shadow of a serious NCAA investigation and in the wake of both a staff and roster exodus.
On Sunday, Arizona State’s athletic director Ray Anderson announced a “change in leadership” that was being made by “mutual agreement” at the university. However, the Eagles’ humiliating 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday, which was led by the team’s backup quarterback, sealed the deal on Edwards’ departure.
After a 1-2 record in bowl games during his five years at Arizona State, Edwards resigns. Because of the NCAA probe, five full-time coaches left the staff, including both coordinators, but he will be remembered mostly for his off-the-field antics and problems.
As a result of losing its starting quarterback, running back, defensive lineman, linebacker, and two leading wideouts to graduation and other commitments in the prior year, the team’s roster quickly withered.
This has to be Herm Edwards getting the news right? https://t.co/7UDCJ8clCO
— Pregame Empire (@PregameEmpire) September 18, 2022
As a result of Arizona State’s recent losing streak, Edwards, 68, a previous client of Anderson’s when he worked as an agent, was finally forced to leave. As of Anderson’s 2017 hiring, Edwards had been out of the college football industry since 1989.
A school official claimed that the circumstances of Edwards’ financial departure had not yet been established, thus no information was released. Shaun Aguano, who coached the running backs, will take over as interim head coach.
Anderson predicted that Edwards would help the Sun Devils “run more innovatively and efficiently than we have in the past” in a press statement announcing his employment. Edwards was touted as bringing an NFL model with him, the New Leadership Model.
On the contrary, Edwards never had more than an eight-win season and finished with a losing percentage (.565) that was lower than that of Todd Graham (.590), whom Anderson had fired to appoint Edwards.
Coaches in the profession will be closely monitoring the outcome of the NCAA investigation into Arizona State as they weigh any fines against the school. The NCAA probe into the Sun Devils’ program began in June 2021 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The investigation was partially sparked by Edwards’ inept administration of his staff; it began after the coach gave former defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce too much autonomy inside the team. Employees became hostile against Pierce after they claimed in a dossier sent to the NCAA in May 2021 that he fostered an environment in which breaking the rules was celebrated.
Some Arizona State employees kept a group text detailing the egregious violations of recruiting laws, including the disregard of NCAA-mandated dead times during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information led to the compilation of the dossier. The dossier included the names of 10 employees and 13 new hires, together with photos and timestamps proving that the offenses had occurred. has been told by reliable sources that the NCAA takes this inquiry very seriously.
There was a note in the dossier that read: “The Arizona State University Football program has been engaging in illegal recruiting practices, and I am writing to inform you of this situation. I hope to do this by furnishing sufficient evidence to guarantee that, should an investigation into Arizona State football be conducted, infractions will be discovered.”
Throughout the investigation, Edwards treated the NCAA probe with indifference, calling it a “study” at one point. Even as the program’s talent level plummeted, recruiting slowed to the bottom of the Pac-12, and fan enthusiasm dwindled, Arizona State president Michael Crow and Anderson stuck behind Edwards.
When the team’s performance on the field caught up to the caliber of its squad and coaching staff, that’s when things started to shift. When the Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Michigan Eagles took on the Pac-12’s Arizona State Sun Devils, the Mid-American Conference’s senior tailback Samson Evans, who had never carried for more than 89 yards before, ran for 258 yards on the ground.
Edwards was let go as Arizona State’s head coach in fewer than 24 hours. According to Anderson, the reason for the shift is “making the greatest possible decision for the present group, faculty, and school. I can relate to all of your anguish. We can and should do better, and that begins with our decision today.”
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