Arizona State parts with Herm Edwards: Sun Devils coach out three games into fifth season

Staff report

www.cbssports.com

Arizona State and coach Herm Edwards chose to part ways Sunday less than 24 hours after the Sun Devils fell 30-21 to Eastern Michigan to continue an underwhelming 1-2 start in Edwards’ fifth season. Despite a 26-20 record that did not include a losing season, Edwards was embattled entering the 2022 campaign with Arizona State under NCAA investigation. The school did not announce who will takeover the program on an interim basis.

“We have made the decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program effective immediately. By mutual agreement, Coach Edwards and I have determined that he will relinquish duties as our head coach,” said Arizona State vice president of athletics Ray Anderson. “At the core of this is doing what is best for our current team, staff and university. I understand the frustrations out there. We must do better and that starts with our decision today.”

Edwards’ departure comes after Arizona State president Michael Crow publicly criticized the state of the program in a conversation with USA Today: “Like anything, when you’re in combat, you support your officers. And we’re in combat. But we’ll have to decide where we’re going from here and decide what the issues are and see where we’re headed.”

Hired as a “head coach who serves as CEO” overseeing what Arizona State referred to as an “NFL approach” to build a college football program, Edwards was placed in charge of a “New Leadership Model” that was supposed to utilize a “general manager structure” to take the team to new heights.

Instead, the Sun Devils were rather mediocre on the field finishing one game above .500 in their three full seasons under Edwards with a 1-2 record in bowl games. Edwards also created significant controversy off the field as the program stands accused of hosting prospects during the extended recruiting dead period enacted for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Multiple coaches have departed since the investigation began, including former recruiting coordinator/defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce and ex-offensive coordinator Zak Hill. Wide receivers coach Prentice Gill, secondary coach Chris Hawkins and tight ends coach Adam Breneman also departed the program amid the inquiry.

Crow expressed frustration with the slow pace that the investigation that began in June 2021 was moving.

“I know that we haven’t, out of my office, been very vocal about anything because we’re asked not to say anything by the NCAA,” Crow told The Athletic. “And the NCAA is moving in deliberate fashion. I don’t believe they’ve even interviewed our remaining coaches yet.”

The leadership model that Edwards sold the public when he was hired didn’t resonate with recruits either, as evidenced by the Sun Devils’ national ranking in the 247Sports Composite since he took over the program.

Arizona State recruiting rankings under Edwards 

Year

National recruiting ranking

Pac-12 recruiting ranking

2018

36

6

2019

28

5

2020

24

4

2021

52

8

2022

103

12

The Sun Devils never finished in the final AP Top 25 under Edwads’ watch, and was 1-2 in bowl games with the one victory coming in the 2019 Sun Bowl over a Florida State team that had recently fired former coach Willie Taggart. 

Edwards came to Arizona State after a long career as an NFL coach and television analyst. He was 54-74 in eight seasons with the New York Jets (2001-05) and Kansas City Chiefs (2006-08). Anderson, who hired Edwards at ASU, was his agent during his NFL coaching tenure.


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