Arizona State is hiring former NFL head coach Herm Edwards to do the same job in Tempe, the school announced Sunday night after a week of swirling rumors.
Edwards was once a client of ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, back when Anderson was a sports agent, which turns up the weirdness on this whole deal.
"Our goal for this football program is to reach unprecedented heights, and therefore we need to find a way to operate more innovatively and efficiently than we have in the past," Anderson said in a release announcing Edwards’ hire.
"In the spirit of innovation, our vision for this program is to have a head coach who serves as a CEO and is the central leader with a collaborative staff around him that will elevate the performance of players and coaches on the field, in the classroom and in our community. Equally important, the head coach will be a dynamic and tireless recruiter."
Edwards, who is 63 years old, hasn’t coached since 2008, when he spent three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs as head coach.
Prior to that, he was the head coach for the New York Jets from 2001-05.
Since then, he has been doing broadcast work with ESPN, which he joined in March 2009. Typically he is seen on various shows such as NFL Live, SportsCenter, and ESPN Radio. Edwards also called the SEC primetime college football games on ESPNU in 2010. He has also worked with high school recruits at the Under Armour All-American game, which used to be televised by ESPN.
The last time Edwards coached at the collegiate level was in 1989, where he spent three seasons as San Jose State’s defensive backs coach for three seasons.
But one of the things Anderson said he was looking for in in his post-Todd Graham press conference on Sunday was a head coach who could keep Graham’s coordinators, Billy Napier and Phil Bennett.
During the press conference, Anderson noted that he hoped the new coach would at least consider retaining offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, both of whom just finished their first season at ASU and were hired by... Todd Graham.
“I want someone to come in with an open mind and see what Napier and Bennett have done for us in terms of progress,” Anderson said. “We don't want someone to come in, throw a grenade and say I want all my own guys.”
Edwards seems OK with keeping both coordinators.
Herm Edwards on if he'd be willing to retain Arizona State OC Billy Napier and DC Phil Bennett:— Doug Samuels (@CoachSamz) November 29, 2017
“You don’t get rid of them because they’re somebody else’s guy."
"Coaches belong to football.”https://t.co/hDae7GFmDR pic.twitter.com/OE5js0psi1
And it’s thanks to that point that you can find the rationalization for an Edwards hire by ASU even though it is certainly coming out of left field.
If the Sun Devils are hellbent on keeping those assistants, and Anderson truly believes they are good enough coaches to get ASU where it needs to go, then bringing in a guy like Edwards as the personable face of the program might not be the worst idea in the world. Think of it like a Dabo Swinney at Clemson, a program that surrounded a green head coach with talented assistants to help shoulder the burden.