ASU Football: Billy Napier retained, promoted as plan comes into focus

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Kyle Williams
TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Kyle Williams /

A day after Herm Edwards was officially introduced as the 24th head coach of ASU football, offensive coordinator Billy Napier and his staff were retained.

Monday was the official announcement of Herm Edwards as head coach of ASU football and the press conference was everything you could expect from the former ESPN analyst.

Famously known for his famous “You play to win the game” line, Edwards’ opening press conference contained everything from motivation to passionate as his press conference made you want to go through a wall for him.

Going back a week when Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson announced that Todd Graham was fired as head coach, Anderson stated the importance of the new head coach retaining coordinators Billy Napier and Phil Bennett.

Just 24 hours after Edwards’ official introduction, he announced that Napier and the entire offensive coaching staff has been retained with Napier earning a promotion to associate head coach.

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This was an important move for Edwards as they keep continuity for the players.

Had Napier not returned, Wilkins would have been going on his third coordinator in three years so that was obviously something Anderson wanted to avoid.

In a press release Sunday night, Anderson laid out his vision for the future of the program and while it was tough for most to decipher what the “New Leadership Model” meant, the future got a little clearer Tuesday.

With Napier’s retention and promotion, and with Edwards 64 years old, it sure looks like Arizona State selected Edwards to help catapult the Sun Devils to upper echelon of teams in the country and hand the keys to Napier.

In announcing Napier’s promotion, Edwards said, “Billy’s experience, while working on some of the top coaching staffs in college football, will be invaluable as we move Sun Devil Football forward.”

Napier, 36, is one of the youngest coordinators in the country and now appears to be the coach-in-waiting after Tuesday’s announcement.

Edwards is not going to coach forever so it appears that Anderson and Edwards want to implement this new NFL model of running the football program with Edwards the CEO. Then, if Arizona State reaches Anderson’s goal of being consistently top-3 in the Pac-12 and top-15 nationally, it will be Napier’s team.

If this is a succession plan that Arizona State has set up, it would definitely make some people believe in this new, bold (and dare I say, innovative) plan.

This season, Arizona State ranked seventh in scoring offense and sixth in total offense.

Outside of the graduations of running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, the majority of the offense is coming back next season for Arizona State with wide receiver N’Keal Harry named to the All-Pac-12 First Team Tuesday. The offense shouldn’t lose a beat next season with Eno Benjamin ready to be next season’s starting running back.

Next: Report: Arizona State hires Herm Edwards as new head coach, pending approval

While this was an outside-the-box hire, the plan that Anderson and Edwards will implement got a little more clarity Tuesday into what the long-term future of ASU football looks like and who might be leading the Sun Devils after Edwards.