Arizona State fires football head coach Herm Edwards
The GIST: On Sunday, Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson announced the school and head coach (HC) Herm Edwards mutually agreed to part ways just three games into his fifth season.
- And while the “change” (aka firing) is officially due to the squad’s poor performance, an NCAA investigation into the team’s egregious recruitment violations factors into the equation.
On-field failures: When 68-year-old Edwards was hired in 2017, he hadn’t coached college football in 28 years, and NFL ball in nine. Anderson, Edwards’ former agent, brought in the then–ESPN analyst to serve as Arizona State’s HC and enact an “NFL approach” where the HC is the central leader and delegates recruitment tasks to other, dependable coaches.
- Over the last four and a bit seasons, Edwards notched a 26-20 record with just one bowl win. But this season has been a mess, capped off with a mass exodus to the transfer portal and a humiliating 30–21 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Off-field violations: The ongoing NCAA investigation centers around recruiting practices during the pandemic’s 14-month dead period when all such activities were banned. Under Edwards’ eye, defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce encouraged such blatant recruitment rule-breaking that other staffers ended up whistleblowing the violations to the NCAA.
- Edwards dismissed any involvement, claiming “I don’t micromanage people.” Instead, other coaching staff were fired or resigned before the 2021 season and in early 2022. ASU president Michael Crow even publicly backed Edwards’ innocence in February.
- However, multiple witnesses confirmed that Edwards met with at least two top recruits and photo evidence shows him with a third, all during the no-contact period. C’mon, man.
What’s next: The NCAA’s report and possible sanctions on Arizona State won’t arrive anytime soon. In the interim, running back coach Shaun Aguano will lead the Sun Devils as they search for permanent, trustworthy leadership. Given the inevitable bomb, though, enticing a good coach could be as hard as finding water in the Arizona desert.