Arizona State hired Herm Edwards, a 63-year-old man who hadn’t coached at all in a decade and hadn’t been any kind of college coach since he was San Jose State’s defensive backs coach from 1987-89, to be its head football coach in the year 2018. The sport’s changed a lot since Edwards was last involved in it.
Edwards’ program has gotten made fun of a lot — for the “New Leadership Model” it announced in a press release that sounded like a Silicon Valley parody, for Edwards’ desire to keep two of Todd Graham’s coordinators who left within a week anyway, and for an introductory press conference that called into question whether Edwards knew Arizona State’s mascot was a Sun Devil.
In a radio appearance with his former employer, ESPN, in January, Mike Golic asked Edwards how coaching has been different for him now than his last go-around. Edwards’ response has gotten laughed at a bit. Here’s what he said about recruiting, with audio here via Football Scoop:
This is almost like professional football, when it comes to obviously recruiting kids and obviously evaluating these guys. I mean, it’s big. We’re already on the 2019 guys. OK? After the 7th of next month, we’ve got six more guys to sign, and we’re done. We’re already working on the 2019 guys.
I basically came in here and really set up a pro model of how we’re going to go about evaluating players. But the evaluation is the key here in college football. I mean, it’s not like in pro football. You’re in pro football, it’s kind of interesting, because when you win, you draft last. In college football, you recruit. You gotta go after guys.
He added this on Signing Day on Wednesday:
ASU's Herm Edwards on ESPN2: "Signing Day is a little bit unusual for me, because in pro football, you get to draft them. In college, they get to pick you!"— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) February 7, 2018
Many people have chuckled at Edwards for sounding sort of like he didn’t know college football had recruiting instead of a draft. I don’t think Edwards actually thought that. He was talking to a national radio show based in Connecticut about a world (college football recruiting) that’s really insular and weird.
His description of recruiting as “interesting” is certainly accurate. Does anyone not think it’s interesting there’s a whole industry full of people with computers rating teenagers on their football skills down to decimal points, with multi-million dollar coaches sucking up to these children so they can get them to sign a piece of paper and agree to play a sport for them? It’s definitely an interesting thing.
Edwards went on:
I’ll tell you what now: You’re not only recruiting kids. Sometimes you’re trying to recruit the parent, too. That’s what amazing. You gotta stay in contact with these kids.
I’m calling these kids all the time, making visits. I’m all over the place. You’re asking an 18-year-old kid to come to your university, and a lot of these kids have no idea why they’re going to go to your university. They don’t know. They want to be recruited. They want to know how many people are coming to their house, how many head coaches are calling them. It’s an amazing deal.
He’s right! Lots of teenagers do not know exactly what they want to do with their lives or why they want to do what they are sure about.
When Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson — Edwards’ former coaching agent — hired him to run this program, it was weird.
There will be more weird things that arise from Edwards’ tenure in Tempe. But these quotes are accurate, even if they sound a little bit funny when read in a transcript.