Both coordinators are gone in Edwardsâ€™ first week.
That Arizona State hired Herm Edwards to be the head coach of its football team in this, the year of our lord 2017, was weird. (So was the press release announcing it, which read like a parody of a 28-year-old tech CEO from a Silicon Valley episode. And so was his introductory press conference, which was just extraordinarily bizarre.)
ASU fired Todd Graham after the season, putting the school on the hook for Grahamâ€™s $12 million buyout. When the Sun Devils announced they were replacing Graham with Edwards, their ostensible plan was to keep all or most of Grahamâ€™s assistants in place and put Edwards on top of a â€œNew Leadership Model.â€�
Itâ€™s rare for schools to keep a fired head coachâ€™s assistants, but since they were under contract, ASU had the option. Athletic director Ray Anderson said he wanted a coach whoâ€™d consider keeping offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. Both had just finished their first seasons in Tempe.
Edwards wanted to keep them, too:
â€œI donâ€™t know if theyâ€™re Todd Grahamâ€™s guys. Theyâ€™re football guys. Football guys are married to football, in the end. You keep good coaches.â€�
â€œYou donâ€™t get rid of them because theyâ€™re somebody elseâ€™s guy. Coaches belong to football,â€� Edwards shared with Arizona Sports 98.7.
Edwards started at Arizona State the week of Dec. 11. Both coordinators he wanted to keep were gone by Friday.
That Tuesday, Bennett said he wouldnâ€™t be returning:
“He offered me a job,” Bennett said. “He was very gracious. Heâ€™s a good man. Youâ€™re going to see that. Football guy. I loved my conversations with him. I told him I just wish it was at another time in my life and unfortunately itâ€™s not.”
Bennett met with Edwards twice and gave him an answer Tuesday morning. He described his decision to leave as “anguished” because of what he sees as a bright ASU future.
“Itâ€™s like I told Herm, I see these kids getting better and better,” Bennett said. “You look whatâ€™s back on offense and weâ€™re growing on defense. Every recruit weâ€™re on, Iâ€™m going to tell them youâ€™ve got to stay with your commitment.”
That was one coordinator down.
And that Friday, news broke that Napier would leave, too:
Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier plans to accept the Louisiana-Lafayette head coaching job, sources told FootballScoop on Friday.
Oh, and college footballâ€™s early signing period is next week.
This does not appear to be going well.