On a sullen Sunday afternoon, the day after an embarrassing and historic lost to Eastern Michigan, Arizona State University president Michael Crow finally came to terms with what most of the world took all of about 30 minutes of Herm Edwards’ introductory press conference to realize.

Although it was announced as a “mutual parting of ways,” Edwards was no doubt shown the door after the Sun Devils fell to 1-2 following the Pac-12’s first loss to a MAC team. Running backs coach Shaun Aguano, who was hired in 2019, was named ASU’s interim head coach.

In the end, it was a toxic mix of poor play plus a looming cloud of a lengthy investigation into Arizona State’s shady recruiting practices that spelled down for Edwards.

Either one of the two likely could have been forgiven.

But both?

Edwards entered the season on the hottest of hot seats, knowing full well that he’d have to coach his way out of a career quagmire if he wanted to keep his job.

He couldn’t. And now he’s gone.


Anyone who remembers that introductory press conference a half-decade ago is probably flabbergasted that Edwards lasted this long.

A list of absurdities from that early-December 2017 day:

> Edwards did not seem to know that a Sun Devil is another term for a whirlwind, and not…the biblical devil.

> Edwards’ current agent, Phil de Picciotto, took to the podium and proclaimed of his client that, “I have no doubt he will put a lot of points on the scoreboard of life.” (Unfortunately, those points don’t count toward college football records).

> In ASU’s release on the hire, athletic director Ray Anderson – conveniently enough, Edwards’ former agent – described a “New Leadership Model” for the program that would be “similar to an NFL approach using a general manager structure.” In this model, Edwards would assume more of a “CEO”-type role than a traditional head coach. We all know how that works out.

“It’s a collaborative approach to managing the ASU football program that includes sport and administrative divisions, which will operate as distinct, but collective units focusing on elevating all aspects of Sun Devil football,” the release said. “This structure will allow the department to form a multi-layered method to the talent evaluation and recruiting processes, increase its emphasis on both student-athlete and coach development and retention, and provide a boost in resource allocation and generation.” Nowhere did it mention that Edwards – a long-time NFL coach and former head coach of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs – had not coached in college football since his lone college gig as San Jose State defensive backs coach from 1987-89.

> He also said this, which makes a ton of sense, if you’re a Martian.

Any sane college football fan or media member that day remembers feeling utterly perplexed at the time. Arizona State had the chance to promote offensive coordinator Billy Napier to the gig, but went with a man who hadn’t coached any level of football since going 15-33 with the Chiefs from 2006-08, before working as an ESPN analyst for nearly a decade.

Instead of sticking around as Edwards’ offensive coordinator, Napier left to become head coach at Louisiana Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns went 40-12 in four years, won at least 10 games in three straight years, and finished the season ranked in both 2020 and 2021. He is now the head coach at Florida.


There were some high marks in Edwards’ tenure, including a pair of eight-win seasons and a Sun Bowl victory over Florida State in 2019, but not enough for Edwards to survive a scandal that rocked the program in 2021 and led to the departure of five coaches in 2021-22. That, in turn, led to the desertion of 17 players into the transfer portal this year and a dismal 2022 signing day for the Sun Devils, who turned in a recruiting class that ranked 104th in the nation, the worst year for the program since 247Sports began its database in 1999.

Wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and secondary coach Chris Hawkins were the first to go in January, both fired by Edwards. Then tight ends coach Adam Breneman and offensive coordinator Zak Hill tendered their resignations. Pierce, who was promoted to associate head coach and defensive coordinator in 2021, was the next to go. Investigations by The Athletic’s Doug Haller and ESPN’s Pete Thamel revealed the depths of Pierce’s involvement, portraying him as the ringleader of illicit recruiting practices and a culture of cheating and fear that had swallowed the program whole.

By that time, it was clear that Edwards’ oversight was sorely lacking. So much for that CEO role.


A 34-17 loss at a top-12 Oklahoma State football team in Week 2 was forgivable. The Sun Devils have nowhere near the talent or depth to compete with a program such as the Cowboys’.

But Saturday’s 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan was the final straw.

The Sun Devils managed just 352 yards and 18 first downs in the loss, but even worse – far worse – they allowed 305 rushing yards, including 258 yards on 36 carries by Samson Evans.

It was a loss as embarrassing as it was historic – no MAC team had previously beaten a Pac-12 team in the regular season.

And, apparently, it was a loss that Crow could not swallow.

So now Edwards is gone, and Arizona State must start from scratch once more. Here’s betting it won’t be a “New Leadership Model” this time around.