I bet you were puzzled by Arizona State Football’s hire of Herm Edwards, weren’t you? On the surface, it appears odd. That’s until you realize the ASU AD is Herm Edward’s former agent as well as the former Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the NFL, whoa! That would be Ray Anderson and what’s more interesting is the following press release issued by ASU, check it out, it’s quite the word salad.
What did you think? More importantly, how did it make you feel? Like Herm or not, something that’s been overlooked by the punditry (not me!) is that Coach Edwards has been interacting and coaching young high school football players for years, what? If you don’t recall, he’s participated in the annual Under Armour game for years. Do you think that matters? Who better to help a program evaluate talent and character than a man that’s been immersed in the scene for that long? Is this idea growing on you? Now, let’s tackle the word salad and I’ll give you my take on what stands out.
‘NFL approach using a general manager structure…’ stands out to me. Let’s be clear, Arizona State is not a ‘blue blood’ program. When you don’t have your ‘pick of the litter’, you need to take measures to gain an edge over the rest of the pack. Now, it’s easy to understand the idea of scouting and recruiting talent. However, it’s not so easy as to what the general manager structure entails, especially at the college level. My take, the ASU program will continue forward in a more cutthroat manner. Players failing to cut the mustard will not be allowed to take up scholarships. The more ‘talent-cycling’ the better, as it exposes the program to more upside with regard to risk. This is an approach you see at many places now, why you often see talented players transfer and it’s not always a talent issue, culture matters too.
If that sounds bad, it shouldn’t, as it’s also stated the program, via its ‘multi-layered’ approach will strive for development and retention, of both players and staff. That’s important, because you’d like a program to treat an individual as is while at the same time promoting and instilling the program ethic. The two are often lumped into one by my estimation. Instead of finding out what makes particular players ‘tick’, you instead alienate some by treating them as all one in the same. That, in my opinion, is too costly and as Texas fans, review the annals of player transfers and shock yourselves by how much talent left Texas for perceived greener pastures. This is a two-sided coin, recruit for retention and develop for retention. The more players you worked so hard to bring to campus stay, the better your chances of developing said players, upside.
Now, that’s not all, but those are just a couple things that stood out to me. How it all fits together, the system, is more important than stated goals. Let’s examine that for a second. The athletic department and it’s chosen ‘general manager’ participates in a system to identify and research talent independent of any other service or program. Along with the head coach, that players is vetted and recruited into the program, preferable over the course of two to three years based on his aptitude, athleticism, current skills, character, and role in the program. Once in the program, a multi-faceted approach of development is tailored for the individual and pursued by both the football and academic programs in place. That is important, as football is only a part of the player’s role at the university. It’s not detailed, but the process, from start to finish is paramount.
How Herm fits in. Coach Edwards will be the face of the program. He will participate and oversee the development of both staffers (himself included) and players. He will see to it that everyone in the program seeks opportunities to both learn and teach, both football and non-football related activities. Edwards is the individual who will communicate ideas and the program’s mission to parents and recruits while also clearly providing a vision for each recruit, preferable in a very emotive manner, something Coach Edwards excels at, if you’ve ever heard him speak. As far as the coaching staff, practice scheduling, and game-coaching, the staff and Edwards will continually develop and nurture a system to properly administer a game based on situations.
You may say, isn’t everyone doing this? It’s my opinion they do not. Talent evaluation should pay no attention to ‘star power’. It should only seek out the type of character and athleticism that best fits the program. This will often lead to curious recruiting. That is fine. That is also how you find the Connor Williams of the world. Now, I’m not saying recruiting services lack value, often they do. What I’m saying is there needs to be an apparatus that allows for independent review of prospects based on careful study of both football and non-football activities, player private investigation if you will. Yes, that’s odd, but so is college football recruiting when you think about it. Overall, it looks like Arizone State is ‘playing to win the game’. Whether they see success or not is relative and as always will be judged on wins and losses. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section.