When vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson hired Herm Edwards at Arizona State, some thought it would turn into a joke.
The two were friends. It reeked of cronyism. Why hire a guy who hadn’t coached in a decade with a 42 percent winning percentage in the NFL and who hadn’t coached college football since the late 1980s when he was a defensive backs coach at San Jose State?
There were definitely some things to like about Edwards – he was charming, hardworking, brought some level of excitement to the program, talked a good game. He had two eight-win seasons and a seven-win campaign during his time in Tempe but an NCAA investigation into recruiting practices has not stalled any progress, it’s brought everything to a halt.
And an end to Edwards’ career at Arizona State.
MORE FROM DEVILSDIGEST.COM: Edwards steps down as Arizona State’s coach
CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100
The Sun Devils announced Sunday that they had parted ways with Edwards after a 1-2 start to the season capped by a 30-21 defeat to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night.
The ongoing, lingering, snails-pace NCAA investigation has been particularly concerning especially since as of last week no current coaches have been interviewed about it which means any finality is not near.
It has absolutely crushed recruiting – and careers. Up-and-coming coaches like Chris Hawkins and Adam Breneman have been implicated in the investigation and they are no longer among the college coaching ranks. Antonio Pierce now coaches for the Oakland Raiders.
All three of them were fantastic recruiters for Arizona State in a time where it looked the Sun Devils would gain conference – if not some national – relevancy but that has all collapsed now. One report called the situation at Arizona State the “biggest dumpster fire” and that could be putting it delicately.
Recruiting has gotten so bad there – since top prospects don’t know the outcome or potential penalties of the NCAA investigation plus they’re dealing with a rebuilt coaching staff – that there is interest in Arizona State but no one is jumping to commit.
The Sun Devils currently have just six pledges which is tied for the lowest with UCLA among Power Five programs. At least, the Bruins have three four-stars while Arizona State has none. ASU’s team recruiting ranking is so low it doesn’t even compute into the team rankings which covers the top 100 classes in the country.
Enough is enough.
Edwards either threw assistant coaches under the bus after allegations surfaced that recruits were hosted on campus during the COVID-19 shutdowns (a rumor that has basically been circulated by everybody) or he was so unaware of what was happening on his watch that he has no business running a college program.
Should we be stunned when your buddy hires you away from the television booth back to a profession that you haven’t been in for a decade that maybe you’re not going to be up on the current recruiting landscape?
On the field, Edwards’ teams were fine. A fringe top-25 team with some big wins but generally trying to hold onto relevancy. The NCAA investigation squashed all that and has taken recruiting to the morgue.
Arizona State deserves better. The Herm Edwards Experiment was unusual and borderline nuts but the Sun Devils’ decision-makers felt they needed a unique approach to tackle the problem of not winning more games.
It didn’t work. The program now deals with a major setback as the NCAA has an ongoing investigation where no one knows when it will be over and what penalty will come of it.
ASU can be a good job but the circus needs to end and a serious coaching search needs to take place not to hire someone’s friend but the most capable coach who’s willing to put up with what might be coming to Tempe.
The worst of it all might just be more uncertainty.