Erickson eager to take Utes offense to next level

Arizona Sports News online

Coaching football is still in Dennis Erickson’s blood.

The 65-year old former Arizona State head coach was hired Monday as co-offensive coordinator on Kyle Whittingham’s staff at the University of Utah. Erickson returns to the Pac-12, working for his fourth school in the conference after stints at Washington State and Oregon State, as well.

“It’s exciting for me,” Erickson told Brad Cesmat Monday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “As a head coach I was involved in the offense all the time but I really quit calling plays the last couple years at Arizona State. I’ve always liked to do that. I thought I was very good at that.”

Erickson joked he may need to reference his obituary to find out the last time he was an assistant coach. In 1981 when he was on Jack Elway’s staff at San Jose State.

The fit with the Utes seems to be a match as Erickson almost exclusively featured a one-back offense with the Sun Devils as Whittingham does at Utah. The Utes struggled in 2012 going 5-7, 3-6 in conference play and failing to reach a bowl game for the first time in nine season. He also figures to be a big asset to Utah as they heavily recruit southern California, an area Erickson has been tied into for the past four decades during his various coaching stints.

He insists it won’t be a problem getting back to the rigors of coaching after being let go from ASU in late 2011 and taking last year off.

“To me it’s like riding a bike,” Erickson explained to Cesmat. “I’m just going to have fun. I’m going to do whatever I can to help [Utah’s] players both on and off the football field. They have a great coaching staff there on both sides of the football. I’m going to do anything I can to help them be successful.”

Through it all he insists he has no ill-will towards ASU where he went 31-31 over five seasons. The Devils visit Rice-Eccles Stadium November 9th.

“No, not really,” he said. “Obviously coaching against some of the players I recruited [to ASU] is going to be exciting…but that’s behind me…all I can do is go forward with the opportunity that I have right now and help Utah win games.”

Erickson won national championships in 1989 and 1991 at Miami and is the only coach to have won Pac-10 or Pac-12 Coach of the Year at three different schools (Washington State 1988, Oregon State 2000, ASU 2007).