Seemingly out of nowhere, ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards has apparently become a leading candidate for the Arizona State job. Multiple outlets have reported mutual interest between the two parties on Tuesday and several reporters have confirmed there will be an interview this weekend.
So Arizona State appears to be heavily targeting a 63-year-old who hasn’t coached at any level since 2008 and whose only college experience came from 1987 to 1989 at San Jose State. So is Edwards actually a legitimate candidate for the job? Against all reason it would appear so.
Don’t get me wrong, Edwards is a great analyst and would likely be a great mentor for young players. But at his age, it’s hard to imagine him rebuilding a program from the ground up and barnstorming the nation trying to snap up recruits. Though he’d probably be a very good recruiter due to his incredibly engaging personality.
But if you’re in Edwards’ position — with a cushy, high-paying gig at ESPN — why would you want to dive head-first into the nonstop grind of college football? Maybe Edwards sees Arizona State as a low-pressure situation and his last real chance at a return to the sidelines.
In eight seasons as an NFL head coach (five with the New York Jets, three with the Kansas City Chiefs), Edwards posted a 54-74 regular season record with a 2-4 mark in four postseason appearances. His teams never made it beyond the AFC Divisional round. So it’s not like he tore things up when he was in charge.
Edwards has become a wildly popular analyst due to his personality and football intelligence. It feels like that’s what he was born to do.
Arizona State is extremely high on offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. Rumors have circulated that the school would prefer to keep both on the team’s next staff, which is why a guy like Edwards might make sense. He could come in as a CEO-type coach to be the figurehead while his coordinators did the majority of the legwork.
In fact, Bruce Feldman believes that’s the current plan:
Would Edwards really agree to take a job where he didn’t get to pick his own staff? I’m not so sure. If Arizona State was willing to commit considerable resources to him, maybe that would happen. It seems like an odd choice for both parties at this point, but stranger things have happened.