ASU's decision to hire Herm Edwards is extremely risky

A decade of coaching inactivity will negatively affect Herm Edwards in his new position at ASU

It has been a decade since ASU football head coach Herm Edwards has been in the coaching ranks and 29 years since he has coached in college

Like any other career, not experiencing the everyday grind of a profession for many years could make Edwards unfit to act as the Sun Devils' new head football coach.

In his eight years as a head coach in the NFL, Edwards had a 54-74 record, with only two career playoff wins. 

To make matters worse, former ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and offensive coordinator Billy Napier have both left the Sun Devils after only one season in Tempe, and given the lack of recent college experience from Edwards, the loss of both Napier and Bennett creates an even greater experience problem for the Sun Devils.

The last year Edwards was a head coach for any football team was in 2008 with the Kansas City Chiefs, in a season where the Chiefs won only two games all year. The 54-year-old was fired from the Chiefs after that season, later joining ESPN as an analyst. 

Similar to Edwards, Jon Gruden, who has also not been an NFL head coach since 2008, has recently been hired to become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Unlike Edwards, Gruden has a more impressive coaching resume, including a Super Bowl ring and a 95-81 career NFL coaching record.

Even with that said, the game has changed drastically since Gruden last coached in the NFL. There is a new age of talent, new offensive and defensive schemes and a new collective bargaining agreement that limits the amount of time coaches and players have together before the start of the season. All of these things will make Gruden’s job that much more difficult.

“I think there’s a lot that (Gruden) may not like with the collective bargaining agreement,” Raiders beat writer Matt Schneidman of Mercury News said. “The restrictions placed on the time he can spend with players in the offseason to develop them (is limited).”

Like Edwards, Gruden will have a tall task ahead of him next season with the Raiders. After an impressive 2016 campaign, Oakland struggled in 2017 by going 6-10 and missing the playoffs.

“I think the thing that is going to determine (whether or not Gruden is successful) is how much you can get out of Derek Carr,” Schneidman said. “Jon Gruden is notorious for being in your face and being really hard on you.”


Historically, this is not the first time that a head coach has returned to coaching after being out of the game for an extended period of time, but history shows that time away from the game doesn't bode well for these coaches.

Three-time Super Bowl champion head coach Joe Gibbs returned to the Washington Redskins in 2004 after having not coached in 12 years. Despite his past success, Gibbs couldn't adjust to a new era of football and his Redskins went 20-34 in his four seasons back on the sidelines.

In baseball, the Boston Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine, who had not been a major league manager in a decade, to become their manager in 2012. 

The Valentine experiment in Boston was a disaster, and the team failed to win 70 games as Valentine ended up getting fired after only one season.

Head coaches coming back to their respective sports after an extended hiatus is a slippery slope to say the least. 

With that history in mind and given that Edwards has not coached at the collegiate level since 1989, Sun Devil fans should be more than dubious toward his upcoming tenure in Tempe.


Reach the columnist at kbriley@asu.edu and on twitter @Kokiriley.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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