(Marana, AZ) After the dismissal of Head Football Coach Herm Edwards, Arizona State is pressing onward for the remainder of the 2022 season.
One must look at “the how, the why and what’s next” for the Sun Devil program.
The How: Over the course of the past two years, there were noticeable cracks starting to show. The Devils were the preseason favorites to win the 2021 PAC-12 South Division. The Sun Devils finished in a second place tie with UCLA, while Utah streaked to the title with a 10-4 overall record.
Arizona State got a favorable bid to play in the Las Vegas Bowl against the B1G Wisconsin Badgers in Allegiant Stadium. That was a great opportunity to showcase themselves on the national stage. A mistake filled game saw ASU stay close, but ultimately losing the game on their own errors and poor execution.
The Why: This is fairly clear as Edwards came to Tempe in 2017 as a very high profile coach and the expectations were astronomically high, but could never raise the program to the next level.
Former Coach Todd Graham certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Edwards unlike what happened at Arizona when Kevin Sumlin was fired.
Although the Edwards era was mixed, he did bring a lot of national attention to ASU which hadn’t been seen in a number of years.
Then came news last summer of an NCAA probe into breaking rules regarding the “dark period” in recruiting due to the Covid pandemic. Allegations began to stack up involving several assistant coaches and both the offensive and defensive coordinators.
All eyes were on Herm Edwards and his possible involvement in the process. No direct infractions were levied onto Edwards, but his title of head coach made him ultimately responsible.
Assistant coaches were let go or chose to leave on their own seeing the writing on the wall. Still Edwards survived and the NCAA has kept mum on the subject even going so far as having no plans to interview any further coaches at this time.
Things continued to go south when a number of starting players opted for the Transfer Portal including starting quarterback Jayden Daniels who went to LSU.
What was it that made so many want to leave the program? Herm, who ran the team like a Corporate CEO allowing his assistants “carte blanche” in installing their will and apparently making their own rules. Edwards still maintains he knew nothing of the infractions and that assistant coach Antonio Pierce was the spearhead behind the scenes.
The final nail in the coffin was the loss last week to Eastern Michigan who was ranked #109. The Devils were twenty point favorites in the game.
The team came out flat and never recovered as an Eagles running back who’s highest yards rushing game was 79 yards, ran all over the ASU defense for 257 yards.
Since the Defense was supposed to be the anchor of this year’s team, you could tell their preparation was sorely lacking and there was no way to hide it on the field.
What’s Next: With Shaun Aguano installed as the interim coach, what direction will he take for the remainder of the season which is only a quarter of the way over.
The quarterback position comes to mind immediately. Highly touted Emory Jones who came to Arizona State via the Transfer Portal from Florida has not been effective this season.
I think we can all discount the NAU route as almost non-relevant due to the huge disparity between talent on both teams.
Jones last season was a mere 65% passer (224-346), and the stat that jumps out is his TD/INT ratio of 19/13. The standard is two touchdowns for every interception or better. Yes he can run gaining 776 yards, but so far this season he’s failed move the offense effectively.
With Edwards almost the minute Jones stepped on campus made him the starter over Trenton Bourguet who was Daniel’s backup in 2021. According to Edwards, there would be a “fair” competition to see who would be named the starter. Jones got 100% of the snaps in pre-season practice so the fair competition never happened.
Jones left Florida when he knew he wouldn’t retain his starting position and quite frankly not even the backup spot. What ASU got was essentially “damaged goods” and yet they gave him a Captains patch before he ever played a game.
Will there be an re-evaluation by Aguano and the remaining coaches for all positions?
With that being said, lets look at other schools who got quarterbacks from the portal and their decisions on where some of these transfer players are.
1) Georgia decided to start their 6’ 185 lb back up from the previous season (national champs), over highly touted JT Daniels from USC. The Dawgs are ranked #1 in the Nation.
2) Last season, Utah had a transfer signal caller from Baylor, he didn’t do well and the Utes went back to Cam Rising and he took them to the Rose Bowl.
Why not at ASU? Why not the veteran QB who has set TD records in Arizona and has worked his way to the top of the program?
Both of the teams mentioned went with unheralded quarterbacks who both excelled.
We all watched Jayden Daniels with all his athleticism and promise make the offense very difficult to watch and now the Sun Devils seem to have a carbon copy of Daniels. Why are different results expected?
Is it time to finally give somebody else a shot and see what they can do? Why not?
Think about this, Central Michigan put up 44 points against Oklahoma State the week before the Devils played them and the offense could barely muster up 17 points. Last Saturday, the offense was as dismal as has ever been seen at Sun Devil Stadium.
Reality is, the Sun Devils have nothing to lose by experimenting with a number of positions and making necessary changes when the status quo isn’t getting the job done, isn’t that what D1 programs seeking wins do?
They say they want to recruit kids from Arizona and if ASU has one of the best from Marana who is waiting his shot. It may send a good message to all the Arizona kids seeing if they really mean what they say about giving local kids their opportunity at ASU. Why not?
Both teams mentioned above went with the unheralded quarterbacks who both excelled. Is it time to make a change? In reality, the Sun Devils have nothing to lose by experimenting with a number of positions and making necessary changes when the present isn’t getting the job done.
Shaun Aguano takes the reigns of a bent but not broken team. He comes with a great resume as one of the greatest coaches in Arizona High School history and was the one that thrusted Chandler High School into national prominence. The Wolves have 16 former players on active NFL rosters this season.
For more on Aguano: https://thesundevils.com/sports/football/roster/coaches/shaun-aguano/3095
Aguano jumps from the fire into the frying pan this Saturday when undefeated and defending PAC-12 champion Utah comes to the desert.
Devil fans want to see a much more aggressive team and performance when the maroon and gold take the field on Saturday.