The effects of Herm Edwards and ASU football's new leadership model

With early signing period coming next week, the Sun Devils have an abundance of issues

A restructured plan for ASU football, set by Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, highlighted specifications for an ideal head coach and football program that was outlined in three main points: retain the current coaching staff, upgrade the recruiting infrastructure and develop the program to be competitively consistent.

Anderson’s selection to carry out the vision was former NFL coach and ESPN personality Herm Edwards.

But with ASU football's offensive and defensive coordinators recently announcing their departure from the program, Edwards and the Sun Devils have had a tough week. 


When Edwards was named the leader of ASU football, he wanted both coordinators to remain with the team. In fact, offensive coordinator Billy Napier and the offensive staff were announced as retained on Dec. 5. 

But 10 days later, Napier accepted the head coaching position at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett announced he would not return to the program on Dec. 12.

The Sun Devils made progress across the board on defense in 2017 with Bennett at the helm.

ASU surrendered 103 fewer points and sacked opposing quarterbacks seven more times than it did in 2016, and the Sun Devils allowed 19 passing touchdowns opposed to their 2016 total of 33. 

On the offensive side of the ball, it was Napier, formerly the University of Alabama wide receivers coach, who resurrected the ASU offense. 

The Sun Devils rushed for 586 more yards than they did in 2016, and redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins turned in a significantly better season than he did just a year prior.

As the situation currently stands, ASU has a head coach of less than two weeks on the job, and neither 2017 season coordinator will return. 

Uncertainty remains among the assistant coaches, as less than a handful will be brought back. 

Wide receivers coach Rob Likens was recently announced as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Running backs coach John Simon will return in the same capacity, but offensive line coach Rob Sale will be departing with Napier. 

“My plans don’t change,” Simon said to media after Friday’s practice. “I’m committed to this area. I’m committed to the guys here, and I want to see it through.”

The defensive side of the ball is empty since no assistants are confirmed to be with ASU next season. 


With Todd Graham and both of his coordinators off the program, recruits are starting to de-commit. 

Before Graham was dismissed, the Sun Devils nabbed 15 recruits. However, since his departure, ASU has lost one-third of the 2018 recruiting class. 

With no retained coordinators, a wave of negative attention and five recruits de-committing, this is not the image ASU imagined. 

And while it’s still unclear how competitively consistent ASU can be on the field with the new regime, the Sun Devils have carved their place as a consistent competitor among media topics.

First it was the firing of Graham that drew mixed reviews among fans. Then came the hire of Edwards, which effectively hurled ASU into the national spotlight.

Especially the topic of Edwards’ hiatus from coaching.

“I coach football, and I’ve been coaching football my whole life," Edwards said at his introductory press conference. "And this is why I'm here today, because of the vision."

Anderson came into the process with a "New Leadership Model" that was set to take the college football world by storm. In the end, only time will tell if this restructured ASU football model will positively impact and elevate the program.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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