The Spirited Experiment Of Coach Herman Edwards

Arizona State at USC
Arizona State travels to Los Angeles to take on USC on Saturday. Photo Credit: Dinur via Creative Commons License.

The Spirited Experiment Of Coach Herman Edwards

The Arizona State Sundevils took a bold step and decided to part ways with head football coach Todd Graham. He received the sobering news on November 26, 2017. The firing served as another reminder that winning championships is the only way to achieve true job security. Many ASU supporters expected Graham to return in 2018 because of his .589 overall winning record at ASU was 46-32 in six years.

According to ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, Graham did not meet all the performance assurances and decided to make a change. Why? Because Anderson wants the glory and revenue pie known as the college football postseason. College Football is another cash machine where the winner takes all in the sports world.

Anderson and a search committee compiled a list of possible candidates to replace Graham and one late name stuck out the most on the list, and that is ex-NFL coach Herman Edwards. It sounded like the twilight zone when Anderson and ASU school president Michael Crow introduced Edwards as the hire. The ASU press conference gave Edwards the platform to provide a motivational speech on the building blocks for success. Edwards is 64 years old and had been away from coaching for ten years.

Herm The Realist

He last coached at the NFL level with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs with minimal success. How did Edwards rise above the other talented and fresh new candidates as the number one choice? Well for one, “Herm” is a what you see what you get a gut-check type of guy. Additionally, he brings a wealth of NFL talent evaluation knowledge for recruiting the best high school players.

Ex NFL coach Pete Carroll enjoyed great success at the University of Southern California, with a similar style, so ASU is testing the waters with Edwards.

Both Anderson and Edwards enjoyed a close business relationship while in the NFL. Anderson served as Edwards agent. No matter the outcome of this decision  Anderson and Edwards are now joined at the hip for better or worse.

The Miracle at the Meadowlands

Herm Edwards played cornerback for the Philadephia Eagles from 1977 to 1985. He is best known for his direct philosophical quotes as a head coach but he is also known as the player for his fumble recovery from Giants QB Joe Pisarcik for a touchdown against the New York Giants called the “Herman Edwards” play.


Edwards went on the retire after 10 years in the league and began coaching.  He played in 142 games and started 135 first snaps. Add 33 interceptions over his career with one for 98 yards and a touchdown.  Fast forward to 2001 through 2005 when he coached the New York Jets and finished (39-41) with a .487 winning percentage. Edwards’ Jets teams made the playoffs three out of five years.

He moved on to coach the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006 to 2008. He made the playoffs once. He finished 54-74 for a winning percentage of .422.

The most inspirational trait about Herm Edwards is he defied all the odds both as a player and head coach. He has a natural personality for his ability to lead a group of men. Two things define Edwards with one being he’s brutally direct and the other is he demands the best of everyone’s ability.

Hello, We Play To Win The Game

Hello, we play to win the game! Coach Edwards passionately unleashed one of the most memorable one-liners from any press conference. Winning is the most significant thing about any competition. “Hello, We Play To Win The Game.”

Edwards believes in player discipline, integrity and not quitting which helped him get the best production from his players. He worked hard and played hard as a player. And he managed to win on both levels.

The Edwards hire was all about his relationship with AD Anderson.

Arizona State University called Edwards and made him an offer too good to be true. The hire triggered mostly adverse but mixed reactions and concerns. Why Edwards? The naysayers pointed to his meager 6-26 record over his last two seasons roaming an NFL sideline.

Herman Edwards is making the best at ASU from being away from a game he loved. His young ASU team showed immediate progress. Especially since many thought, he wouldn’t guide the program in a winning direction. The Sun Devils most notable victories include Michigan State, Utah and Southern California. All the losses were considered competitive against good teams. They finished 7-6, which changed the conversation.

Anderson and Edwards agreed on an NFL type evaluation system to lure four and five-star athletes to play at ASU. Edwards knows the thin line between success and failure. Their model relies heavily on their reach and network with California being front and center. Another factor to success is ASU assistant coaches willingness to accept and buy into this approach.

Moving forward does Edwards have the ability to recruit to mold and develop high school players? His coaches, school administrators, and support staff indeed believe he does.

Can coach Herm successfully prepare teenagers to instill character, self-discipline, and graduate his student-athletes? Only time will tell, but he is off to a great start.