In the bizarre and confusing press release that named the bizarre and confusing coaching candidate ASU’s new head coach, Athletic Director Ray Anderson laid out the plan for Herm Edwards to serve as a CEO.
The plan, emulated under the New Leadership Model which will see the Sun Devils take an “NFL approach using a general manager structure,” is unprecedented – especially when noting that Edwards hasn’t coached in nine years and hasn’t been coaching in college since 1989.
But, regardless of Edwards’ saying he has been coaching football for his whole life, including since 2009 while at ESPN, reaching the lofty goals set by Anderson will no doubt be an uphill battle.
Edwards noted what his responsibilities will be in his head coach/CEO role and, unlike how many coaches jobs are perceived, it doesn’t seem too daunting.
“Well I think a lot of coaches when they get these jobs they become dominated in the fact that they have to do everything,” Edwards said. “I think this is where I need to learn to delegate. That’s what good CEOs do. They hire people with talent and they allow them to succeed.”
And with the news that Edwards named offensive coordinator Billy Napier associate head coach and retained the entire offensive staff, it is clear that Edwards is going to rely heavily on his assistant coaches.
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“I will delegate responsibility to coordinators and to assistant coaches and then I will hold them accountable for how those players play,” Edwards said. “Anytime I see something going awry, I will make mention of that.”
In his new job at ASU, Edwards is facing a steep learning curve. Aside from being out of the game for quite a while, Edwards will need to learn the NCAA recruiting rules on the fly as well as operate a coaching staff that he has never met.
But in a delegator role, that learning curve could be lowered.
Edwards is a great speaker, someone who can really command a room, his press conference at times felt like a motivational speech—so, his future as a recruiter feels like it could be promising, it’s the coaching part that many have questions about.
In his eight seasons as a head coach in the NFL for the Jets and Chiefs, Edwards went 54-74, not a great resume for a program that just fired its coach that had gone 46-31 in six seasons.
But, just from his press conference, it doesn’t sound like Edwards will be doing too much coaching, or at least not as much as other head men.
Instead he said he will “coach the coaches because they deliver your plan when they walk in that room.”
It is currently unknown if ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will be a part of Edwards’ staff, but if he does, ASU could see the same dynamic from this season in which their coordinators call plays – creating even less responsibility for ASU’s new head coach.
And although these limited responsibilities make it seem like anyone could be the CEO of the Sun Devils’ New Leadership Model, it’s setting Edwards up for success.
The model seems to be taking the pressure off of Edwards and let him focus on recruiting while helping coaches and players with specific things.
And, while the public perception of this hire is eminently low and the Devils odd model has no history of success – ASU is aware of its new head coach’s strengths and weaknesses and is trying to take full advantage of the former.