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State Press Play: Herm Edwards out as football head coach

Plus Yik Yak bomb threats cause evacuations, and Tempe has a lot of cats.

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"State Press Play." Illustration published on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Editor's Note: This is the first episode of the reimagined "State Press Play." The podcast will be posted weekly on Wednesday mornings, and will feature a deep dive into the past week's biggest ASU news stories.

Herm Edwards is out as ASU's head football coach, "a bad joke" escalated to a trio of late night bomb threats, and Tempe's feral cat community is bigger than you think. Join hosts Sonya Sheptunov and Naomi Dubovis as they explain this week's biggest ASU news stories on "State Press Play."


State Press podcast transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. The official record for State Press podcasts is the audio. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Hi there. Good morning. This is Sonya Sheptunov and I'm Naomi Dubovis. You're listening to state press play. A lot went down in the ASU community in this past week Herm Edwards is out as ASU is head football coach. A bad joke escalated to a midnight bomb threat at the Memorial Union. And Tempe's feral cat community is bigger than you might think. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

We've got all this and more for you this week. Tune in for the ASU community's top stories every Wednesday, right here right now.

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Well, it's official. Herm Edwards is out as head coach of ASU football. We have sports desk editor Walker Smith joining us today to fill us in on what's going on. Walker, thank you for being here. 

WALKER SMITH

Appreciate it. Thank you for having me on. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

So what went through your mind the moment the news broke? 

WALKER SMITH

I think shock was the number one thing that I felt when I first saw it, it was just after we got done with pitch meetings, we were getting ready to do board meetings and whatnot. And I just get a text see it on Twitter. Herm Edwards wasn't fired mutual relinquishment of duties. And I just kind of went in to shock, like I couldn't believe they pulled the trigger. Right then after he just signed an extension in 2020. It was kind of unbelievable, that they rip the band aid off that quick. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Elaborate a bit more on that extension. 

WALKER SMITH

So in 2020, he signed a two year extension to his deal that was originally ending in 2022. That would now make it end in 2024. So they had just kind of made it almost like he was going to be here long term. And then they'd already dismissed him from any of the potential involvement with the NCAA investigation that happened last winter. And then they move on to the Eastern Michigan loss and then immediately it just like they rip the band aid off. Like that was the final straw for some reason. And they just fire him almost on the spot. And next day, we get all the news. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

So what happened during that investigation? 

WALKER SMITH

The investigation was majority of recruiting violations from previous assistant coaches, where it kind of brought a bad shadow on Arizona State football that led to large majority of the assistant coaches leaving a lot of players transferring out and leading to like a bottom 100 recruiting class for Arizona state for the next couple of years because no one no players want to come to Arizona State because of the opportunity of potentially being involved with an investigation that's going on. Like it's a shadow that they don't want to see themselves being involved with. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Interesting. How does this impact Herms legacy?

WALKER SMITH

I think Herms legacy Arizona State, it kind of almost like it was cut off short, it's on like we did, we had success with her, we had this window of opportunity where the PAC 12 wasn't strong, and we just couldn't capitalize. And I think that'll be the number one thing people will think about the Herm Edwards at Arizona State was, we had what we needed, but we just couldn't capitalize on the position we got ourselves into, to truly get over the mountaintop and win the PAC 12 and go to the Rose Bowl.

NAOMI DUBOVIS

And you reported in your article that he wasn't fired, but he also didn't quit. So could you sort of elaborate on what that means and why that distinction matters?

WALKER SMITH

So a lot of it had to do with a contract situation. Because in his contracts, there are articles that he was 14 and 15, where it talks about if we fire him, we have to pay him this much amount of money, fire him without cause, or the next one, if he gets if he leaves without cause on his own accord, then they would owe him a certain amount of money, right there. So what they did was a mutual relinquishment of duties, where they both kind of agreed, hey, let's part ways we're going to figure out the potential buyout later. And so it was kind of a way of not handcuffing them to a certain dollar amounts, they can go argue it for how much money they're going to eventually end up buying them out. So I think that was the real reason for them, not just saying, Oh, he's fired, or oh, he resigned. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

So what would constitute like a probable cause for getting fired or resigning from that position? 

WALKER SMITH

Ethical violations were majority of the ones that would be probable cause or like breach of contract or if he had been involved with NCAA investigations if he had been indicted or incited that he was orchestrating or wasn't part of that would have been a reason to fire him without having to pay him a buyout because that's a breach of the NCAA rules and I believe this contract so.

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

This is not the last we're going to be seeing of Herm Edwards.

WALKER SMITH

At Arizona State. He's probably done but we will hear about how much what he's going to be paid in the future. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

What does Herm leaving mean for ASU football?

WALKER SMITH

It means almost a complete reset, which is kind of where we were heading in the beginning with the investigation that happens, we had all of these people, kind of all of our really good players left, they went to the draft, some of them transferred out because of all the clouds around the organization now. And then when you take out Herme, it's a complete and utter reset. They're going to have coach on guano for the interim, he'll try and get some insight kids, for recruiting while he has his time here. And then moving forward, they're going to look at their options and try and figuring out who's best to write the ship for Arizona state. Because Arizona State is a premier job and one of the premier football recruiting markets. It has, I believe, four nationally ranked high school programs, just in Maricopa County alone. So this is a premier spot, it's going to be a sought after job. And it's just it's going to be a big opportunity for whoever gets that job and find a way to write the ship and this new age of NFL and transfer portal.

NAOMI DUBOVIS

So what are the next steps happening with ASU football right now? Like what should we expect to happen in the next weeks or months?

WALKER SMITH

The next steps are see what Coach Shawn Aguano can do with this team. It's he the he said everything right in the press conference and said, I want to recruit here. The staff believes me I believe in the players. I believe we have what we need to win ballgames, be competitive. It's just coach speak that you expect from all press conferences and stuff. But that's honestly all we can expect. And what that is, is not that much. We this is a team that didn't have too many expectations going into this year will middle the Pac Pac 12. Team and now you lose Herm Edwards. And you're left with this kind of broken apart team that just got embarrassed by Eastern Michigan and one of their worst losses in this decade almost this century, in the 21st century. So it's you can't expect much but this season, you just kind of have to see what Shawn Aguano can do with this squad. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

That was Walker Smith from our sports desk. Follow him on Twitter at Walker RTR that's W A L K E R R T R. Thank you for being here. Thank you. Appreciate you having me.

NAOMI DUBOVIS

ASU students Trevor Binoy Lucas Patton and Peter Frankel were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of a bomb threat. According to ASU police, residents of Hasyampa and Barrett dorms as well as those in the Memorial Union had to evacuate Monday night after three bomb threats were posted on Yik Yak. The suspects have been charged with a felony and four misdemeanors according to court documents. The documents also say that Frankel admitted to posting the threats the night of his arrest and called it quote a bad joke. For more details read Jasmine Kabiri article at statepress.com. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

If you've ever felt like Coca Cola products are shoved in your face while at the pod market. Or if you've wondered about the coke themed ASU shuttle. There's a reason why. ASU has partnered with the Coca Cola company in a two part agreement that covers sponsorship and vending. For coke. This deal has an estimated $30 million price tag, but it's a pretty sweet deal for ASU. As far as vending machines go, the only drinks you'll find inside will be coke brand. In return, the university gets royalties from coke for every drink sold from a vending machine. The sponsorship deal is much bigger. It covers hard stuff like sponsorship fees, concession rebates and merch. It also has some more obscure rules involving visibility, all with the goal of pushing Coke products at students. But health experts are concerned. Eva Greenthal, a Senior Policy Associate for the Center for Science in the Public Interest has studied the role that university deals with soda companies play in getting college students to drink more soda. According to ?Greenthal. Universities can play a really essential role in shaping the food environments for their students, faculty and staff and communities to promote healthier choices. With less than three years left and Asu's 10 year contract. Greenthal is an advocate for a healthier solution. To find out more read the article by Jasmine Kabiri at statepress.com. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

As we near the end, here are our favorite stories from this last week. A marine conservation biologist and professor at ASU is trying to break the stigma surrounding sharks. And as scary as they seem this researcher likes sharks so  that you can find him wearing a shark costume during a scientific lecture. And on top of that, he wrote a book about them. Dr. David Schiffman published why sharks matter a deep dive into the world's most misunderstood predator. The book introduces readers to the fascinating world of sharks and talks about why we need to protect them. Dr. Schiffman is also active on Twitter at why sharks matter where he debunks myths from Shark Week The Discovery Channel's yearly documentary marathon, Sonya, are you afraid of sharks? 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

In my rational brain? Yes, in my animal loving brain know, if we're talking about the four pound plush shark I have in my house? Absolutely not.

NAOMI DUBOVIS

Does this pillow perhaps influence your belief that you could make a shark as a friend? 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Oh, absolutely. four pound shark, you know, half a ton shark. What's the difference?

NAOMI DUBOVIS

Well, I'm not I'm not good at math. But it sounds like a lot.

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Think you might be right. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

How would you how would you even begin to make friends with a shark? 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Well, I think we've all heard of if you pet its nose or scratch the sharks nose, they get hypnotized. 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

I've never heard of such a thingI want maybe we can ask the professor if that really works. Dr. Schiffman David Schiffman. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

To David Schiffman, Breaker of myths and prover of dreams.

Why bother going to a cat cafe when you could just go to Tempe loving the coverage from State Press this week. This one's from community and culture reporter Sherry fan. According to Kristen Gwinn, an animal welfare specialist Tempe is home to anywhere from eight to 10,000 feral cats. I wonder how many cats per mile that is? Rest assured the city of Tempe is well aware of its cutest residents. The community cat management program started by the city aims to teach local neighborhoods about feral cats. You'll hear this from Gwinn and you'll hear this from me but euthanasia is not the answer here. TNR or trap neuter return is one of the main education points in the community cat management program. TNR is the best method to control the feral cat population. According to Gwinn, there are a lot of folks who just really want to believe that they can live in a world without cats. And it's not realistic. I have to say, Naomi, what is a world without cats? 

NAOMI DUBOVIS

No, no, no, I agree because she says that there are folks who want to believe they can live in a world without cats. But that's all that is. It's a belief that is physically impossible doesn't mean that it aligns with reality in any way.

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

Read more from Sherry Fan at state press.com.

NAOMI DUBOVIS

Thanks for listening to this episode of state press play. But don't pause this just yet. To learn more about the stories we talked about today, check out the articles online. You can find all of these stories and more at state press.com. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

And so you don't miss a single episode, follow the State Press on Spotify. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter at the State Press. Thank you to Walker Smith for being here with us this week. This show was edited and produced by the State Press podcast desk.

NAOMI DUBOVIS 

Thank you to our editor Kate Ourada and our managing team Andrew Onodera and Angelina Steele. Our music is courtesy of Epidemic Sound. 

SONYA SHEPTUNOV

I'm Sonya.

NAOMI DUBOVIS 

And I'm Naomi. You've been listening to State Press Play. See you next Wednesday.


Sonya SheptunovFull-time Podcast Producer

Sonya Sheptunov is a podcast producer at The State Press. They take an interest in data, counterculture, and all things nerdy. In their free time you can find them drinking too much coffee or attempting to crochet.


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