ASU football makes its case for an unconventional hire in Herm Edwards

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:57:52 AM. Herm Edwards hasn't coached in 10 years, but he says ASU was the right fit.

On Monday morning, while work crews outside worked on the final major reconstruction stages of Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State’s highest officials introduced the central figure in this makeover, a 63-year-old former NFL coach who has been out of the game for nearly a decade.

Herm Edwards objects to that, by the way. He insists that while he’s sat in the analyst chair at ESPN studios since 2009, he has coached this sport, lived and breathed it. And that’s why he thinks his transition into ASU football, as its 24th head coach, will be easier than most expect.

“When you sit there in the seat I’ve been in, you watch a lot of football,” Edwards said. “You watch college football, you watch pro football. You break football down. I’ve visited a lot of college campuses. I’m been invited to practices.”

RELATED: Herm Edwards press release draws scrutiny, strong reaction on social media

Whether it’s on television or on a stage, Edwards has a rare ability to connect with his audience. (“You doing all right, brother?” he asked while walking past a reporter.) He is charming and funny, direct and passionate. All these traits were on display on the suite level of Sun Devil Stadium, a news conference that was short on specifics and heavy on passion.

After firing coach Todd Graham -- and paying him a $12 million buyout -- Ray Anderson knows he’s on the line here. Easy analysis: The ASU Vice President of Athletics doesn’t care. Or maybe he's simply confident in his decision. Although he mentioned having multiple discussions with agents and others, Anderson declined to say how many candidates he interviewed for the ASU job because he didn’t find it appropriate.

Anderson also acknowledged why this hire rubs so many the wrong way – his past with Edwards. He’s known the former NFL coach for 20 years. As an agent, Anderson represented him. When asked if he had to sell this to Edwards the first time they talked, Anderson wasn’t sure what to say because they talk so often.

“He knows I wouldn’t have come to Arizona State unless there was a very significant and different opportunity,” Anderson said. “Some people say, ‘Well, it’s cronyism and his old buddy.’ What I would say to that is, it’s simply not a factor. It’s about fit and vision and very frankly, the willingness to invest. Skin in the game.”

MORE: What will Herm Edwards bring as coach of ASU football?

Arizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson, left, introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson, left, introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University President Michael Crow, left, Arizona State University President Michael Crow, left, watches via video link as new head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017. Edwards takes questions from the media.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017. Edwards takes questions from the media.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017. Edwards takes questions from the media.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017. Edwards takes questions from the media.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University Vice President of University Arizona State University Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson, left, introduced the new head football coach Herman Edwards at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.  Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The RepublicArizona State University head football coach Herman Arizona State University head football coach Herman Edwards takes questions from the media at Sun Devil Stadium, Monday December 4, 2017.   Tom Tingle/The Republic

Before his analyst gig, Edwards logged eight years as an NFL coach. The first five came with the New York Jets, the next three came with the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the playoffs four years but finished with a 54-74 mark.

“I know about hurt quarterbacks – I’ve had a bunch,” Edwards said. “When I was a good coach my quarterback stayed alive and we were in the playoffs. When I wasn’t, not so much fun.”

Edwards will have a five-year deal. Anderson would not disclose salary but he made it clear that once the figure is known everyone will see that Edwards’ motivation was not money related.

“It was about the chance to make a difference in a place that obviously has a vision and expectations that are much loftier than most people think we deserve to have,” Anderson said.

RELATED: Pundits still blasting ASU's Herm Edwards' hire | Fans too?

After Monday's media obligations, Edwards planned to meet with ASU's current coaching staff. According to sources, offensive coordinator Billy Napier is a good bet to stay in place. Last week running backs coach John Simon and receivers coach Rob Likens also said they would welcome the opportunity to return.

The rest of the staff is not yet known. Edwards said he has heard from a lot of coaches, all expressing interest in joining him. He plans to iron out details as soon as possible. He knows recruiting is a priority, something he will monitor as he returns to Bristol, Conn., for his final week at ESPN. His last day there is Friday.

Across the country, teams are hiring younger coaches to run their programs. By the time ASU plays its first game next season, Edwards will be 64. His response: “I don’t have to play.” Edwards insists his mind and body are in great shape. Although he can’t run anymore – the results of a 10-year NFL playing career – he gets up at 4 a.m. every day (no alarm clock) to exercise.

From there he doesn't stop until his 10 p.m. bedtime.

“Why do we put a number on people’s expectations when you get a certain age?” Edwards said. “I’ve never let anyone tell me about my expectations. If I feel I could not do this? I have a good job; I could stay there. But the vision of the two men (Anderson and ASU president Michael Crow) I’m involved with – I want to do this. This is the right situation.”

MORE: Herm Edwards' ASU football plan, coaching philosophy

RELATED: ASU football players react to Graham's firing, Edwards' potential hiring

Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 at doug.haller@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DougHaller. Download the ASU XTRA app to keep up on the latest ASU sports news.

Take a look at ASU football coaches through the years, Take a look at ASU football coaches through the years, from Dan Devine (1955-57) to Herm Edwards (2018).  Tom Tingle/azcentral sports1955–1957 | Dan Devine | Record: 27-3-1 1955–1957 | Dan Devine | Record: 27-3-1  AP1958–1979 | Frank Kush | Record: 176–54–1 1958–1979 | Frank Kush | Record: 176–54–1  Photo courtesy of ASU1979 | Bob Owens | Record: 3–4 1979 | Bob Owens | Record: 3–4  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports1980–1984 | Darryl Rogers | 37–18–1 1980–1984 | Darryl Rogers | 37–18–1  Patrick Breen/azcentral sports1985–1987 | John Cooper | 25–9–2 1985–1987 | John Cooper | 25–9–2  Cheryl Evans/azcentral sports1988–1991 | Larry Marmie | 22–21–1 1988–1991 | Larry Marmie | 22–21–1  azcentral sports1992–2000 | Bruce Snyder | 58–47 1992–2000 | Bruce Snyder | 58–47  USA TODAY Sports2001–2006 | Dirk Koetter | 40–34 2001–2006 | Dirk Koetter | 40–34  Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports2007–2011 | Dennis Erickson | 31–31 2007–2011 | Dennis Erickson | 31–31  Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports2012–2017 | Todd Graham | 44-30 2012–2017 | Todd Graham | 44-30  Jeffrey Lowman/azcentral sports2018-? | Herm Edwards 2018-? | Herm Edwards  Tom Tingle/azcentral sports

 

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