What Worked and What Didn’t in the Herm Edwards Era

The Herm Edwards era is over at Arizona State, just three games into his fifth season as head coach.

ASU went 26-20, including an 8-5 finish in 2021.

The experiment went south once a NCAA investigation began due to recruiting violations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a lot that went wrong, but there’s also some things he accomplished that were a positive for players in his program.

GOOD: Creating a Path to the NFL

Seven ASU players made NFL rosters as rookies in the 2022 season. As Chase Lucas put it during a Twitter space hosted by Ralph Amsden today, the pro model that Edwards set out to build was accomplished.

“When I got to the league, all my coaches knew I was prepared because of Herm, Marvin Lewis, and other pros on the ASU staff,” Lucas said after appearing in his first NFL game for the Detroit Lions. “That part of the pro model worked.”

The Sun Devils did have the most players from the Pac-12 at the 2022 NFL combine. Edwards’ coaching staffs did develop pro-level guys and prepared them for the league.

Having NFL experienced coaches on staff does create that culture, even if it didn’t translate to wins in Tempe.

BAD: Old-School Playstyle, NIL Reluctance

This is where Edwards fell short on the field. Whether or not he was intended to just be a “CEO figure,” or a true head coach, he did have a say in how this team calls plays. His playstyle is outdated. Running as few plays as possible and trying to drain clock doesn’t work in Power-5 college football.

Name, Image, and Likeness is part of the ever-evolving landscape of college football. Ray Anderson subtly referred to this in his press conference on Sunday, by saying that the next coach will likely be younger and more suited for this landscape. Edwards didn’t appear to be equipped for this task. It remains to be seen if Anderson is as well…

GOOD: Finding Quality Position Coaches

For the purpose of this story, we’ll stay away from coaches that were allegedly involved in recruiting violations under Edwards.

Interim head coach Shaun Aguano and defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez were hired by Edwards. Both are bright spots in the program, who have potential to do great things.

Aguano was the head coach at Chandler high school, winning a title in each of his final three seasons before going to ASU. Multiple running backs coached under Aguano are in the NFL now (Eno Benjamin, Rachaad White). Despite the 1-2 start this season, the ground game has once again impressed.

Lucas was coached by Aguano in high school before reuniting at ASU. When he found out about the news, he was overjoyed.

“He’s the best answer for this team right now,” Lucas said. “He’s a true leader of men, and he will do everything in his power to right the ship, just like he did for us at Chandler.”

Rodriguez is one of the most energetic coaches on the staff. At every practice, it’s easy to get drawn into his conversations with the defensive line. He’s as smart as they come, and will be a head cooach one day if he desires.

BAD: In-State Recruiting

Everyone understands why Edwards and his staff wanted to recruit at a national level. That’s one path to becoming a national powerhouse.

But, Arizona is a hot bed for high school talent and is catching up to Texas, California, and Florida. 

Lucas and Kyle Soelle are great examples of impact players who come from state 48. They both arrived at ASU before Edwards did.

There has to be a balance. When high school coaches from top programs in your own state feel like their best guys aren’t shown respect from ASU recruiting, that’s a problem. 

The next coach will need to make that a priority.