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Vision Unveiled, Edwards Takes Helm

Dec 3, 2017

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State University and Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson has unveiled plans for a restructured ASU football model and named former NFL head coach Herman Edwards as the 24th head coach of Sun Devil Football, pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.

The department's New Leadership Model will be similar to an NFL approach using a general manager structure. It's a collaborative approach to managing the ASU football program that includes sport and administrative divisions, which will operate as distinct, but collective units focused on elevating all aspects of Sun Devil Football. This structure will allow the department to form a multi-layered method to the talent evaluation and recruiting processes, increase its emphasis on both student-athlete and coach development and retention, and provide a boost in resource allocation and generation.

"Our goal for this football program is to reach unprecedented heights, and therefore we need to find a way to operate more innovatively and efficiently than we have in the past," Anderson said. "In the spirit of innovation, our vision for this program is to have a head coach who serves as a CEO and is the central leader with a collaborative staff around him that will elevate the performance of players and coaches on the field, in the classroom and in our community. Equally important, the head coach will be a dynamic and tireless recruiter."

Edwards, who will oversee the New Leadership Model, arrives in Tempe with a football legacy that has impacted thousands, whether as a player, coach, analyst, motivational speaker and author, or community advocate and philanthropist.

He has most recently served as a coach for the past eight years at the Under Armour All-American game, which features the top high school football recruits in the country, and as an NFL analyst for ESPN since 2009 where he appeared primarily on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and the network's coverage of Super Bowl week. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a cornerback between the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams, followed by another 18 years as a scout, position coach, assistant and head coach between the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets. He made the playoffs four times as an NFL head coach.

"Passion for my faith, my family and my occupation as a football coach are the things that have driven me back to the grass," Edwards said. "My personal commitment to build young men to be whole people through the game of football is completely in alignment with the vision President Michael Crow and Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson have for this program. I stand ready for the challenge of working with them to elevate Sun Devil Football. I am very excited and humbled to be the Arizona State head football coach."

"During my years with and around the NFL, there is not a more respected man that has the passion for the game of football like that of Herm Edwards," Anderson said. "I have no doubt his ability to lead, inspire and develop young men will translate into his staff and into recruiting, and I'm confident he is the visionary and leader we need to command this new ASU football model."

"Since Ray arrived, his commitment and passion to elevating our performance on the field of play can be seen in the leaders he's appointed with each respective sport," said University President Dr. Michael Crow. "Ray's vision for our football program is mutual, and Herm Edwards is the epitome of the leader this program needs for our student-athletes."

The New Leadership Model will allow for resource sharing and strategic planning between the football staff and administrators who are directly involved with the program. The administrative division will be primarily composed of Anderson, Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director Jean Boyd and Senior Associate Athletics Director Scottie Graham. The sport division will operate with an experienced and senior football administrator, Senior Associate Athletic Director Tim Cassidy, helping to manage day-to-day operations, along with a variety of staffers responsible for player development, player personnel, and recruiting, among other areas.   

Sun Devil Football's existing recruiting infrastructure will be upgraded through additional staff support and evaluation resources, by instilling a culture of accountability at all levels, and building long-term relationships in communities across the country to help ensure recruiting quality and consistency. Both the sport and administrative divisions will play key roles in student-athlete development.

The New Leadership Model affords coordinators and assistant coaches more flexibility in how they develop student-athletes on the field, and enables Sun Devil Football to build on the 'Championship Life' program already in place through the Office of Student-Athlete Development to better equip student-athletes with the tools and skills necessary to succeed in their respective future endeavors.

Boyd is a former ASU football student-athlete who has risen to the role of Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director after 22-plus years of experience in Sun Devil Athletics. He has overseen the dramatic evolution of the department's Student-Athlete Development efforts and has been nationally recognized.  

Graham, who joined Sun Devil Athletics in June 2014, has served as a sport administrator with additional responsibilities surrounding student-athlete development and welfare for the past three-plus years. He will transition to a new role where he will serve as the liaison between the sport and administrative divisions. He has an extensive background with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) as he was the Director of Player Engagement for four years before arriving in Tempe, playing a key role in cultivating, maintaining and enhancing relationships with current and former players, business partners and other stakeholders.

Edwards will take a proactive approach to developing coordinators and assistant coaches, drawing on his nearly three decades of NFL experience in a variety of capacities and wide range of leadership positions within both the sport of football and in other endeavors.

Edwards played cornerback for the University of California in 1972 and 1974 before he ended his collegiate career at San Diego State in 1975. An undrafted free agent who went on to have a 10-year NFL career, he never missed a game in his nine seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1977 to 1985 and started all 16 games in seven of his nine seasons with the team. Over the course of his nine years in Philadelphia, Edwards totaled 33 interceptions -- with seven during his sophomore NFL season – which is just one short of the franchise record. He earned second-team All-NFC honors in 1980 to help lead the Eagles to Super Bowl XV.

It is said the victory formation, which was implemented by the Eagles, came in part to a play made by Edwards late in the 1978 season. Trailing 17-12 to the New York Giants with seconds remaining, Giants' quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled the handoff and Edwards picked it up for the scoop and score and the 19-17 victory. The play became known in Philadelphia as "The Miracle at the Meadowlands".

Edwards retired from the NFL following the 1986 season, and as the first graduate of the league's Minority Coaching Fellowship, he immediately went into coaching as a defensive assistant at San Jose State University from 1987 to 1989.

In 1990, Edwards transitioned back into the NFL as a scout and defensive backs coach with the Chiefs from 1990 to 1995 under legendary head coach Marty Schottenheimer. He then served under Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2000 before being hired as the head coach for the New York Jets in January 2001.

Over the course of five seasons Edwards led the Jets to three playoff berths, five postseason contests and a pair of 10-win seasons. His 35 victories with the team from 2001-04 is tied with Joe Walton (1983-86) for the most regular season wins by a coach in his first four years with the team.  

He started his second tour with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006 and became the first coach in franchise history to lead the team to the playoffs in his initial season.

Dating back to his NFL days and recently seen at the Under Armour All-American game, Edwards is known for his high-energy behavior and motivational speeches driven by his passion for the game of football. He co-authored the book "You Play to Win the Game - Leadership Lessons for Success On and Off the Field" with ESPN's Shelley Smith and had an integral role in longtime NFL referee Jim Tunney's book, "It's the Will, Not the Skill - Principles and Philosophies of Success as Seen Through the Eyes, Mind and Heart of Herm Edwards."

Edwards has been heavily involved in the community for more than three decades. He created the Herman L. Edwards Family Youth Foundation in 1985 to positively impact children on the Monterey Peninsula, served as a member of the Positive Coaching Alliance's National Advisory Committee in 2003, and was appointed a charter member of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, among other philanthropic endeavors.

He joined an exclusive list when he received the 2013 Walter Camp "Man of the Year" award, given to an individual for longtime contributions to the game of football who has been a proven leader in his chosen profession with a commitment to public service and an impeccable reputation for integrity. Other recipients of the "Man of the Year" award include Gale Sayers, Roger Staubach, John Elway and last year's winner, Calvin Johnson.

Edwards graduated from San Diego State with a degree in criminal justice. He and his wife Lia, have three children: Gabrielle, Vivian and Marcus.         

Comments from around the country on new head coach Herman Edwards...

Derrick Brooks, Pro Football Hall of Famer
"Coach Herm will do a fantastic job at ASU, not only on the field but in the lives of these young men in general. He was a critical part of changing our culture at the Buccaneers to a winning culture with proper attitudes. I'm excited to see him affect the next generation.

Chris Carter, Pro Football Hall of Famer
"Sometimes in life you encounter people who are natural-born leaders. And that is who Herm Edwards is. He has mentored myself and hundreds of other people during our friendship of 30 years. If I had a son, nephew or friend ask me what college can I trust with their life and/or career? I'd recommend they call Arizona State and ask for their head coach."

Curtis Martin, Pro Football Hall of Famer
"Herm is not only one of the best coaches I have been around, but he's also one of the best men I know. I trust his character and his wisdom. He does everything with integrity and hard work at the forefront and he inspires you as a player to do the same. He's played and coached the game at the highest level so he knows what he's talking about. Herm is the type of guy who will have success wherever he is, with whatever he is doing, because of who he is as a man."

DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of NFLPA
"Congratulations to Coach Herm Edwards on his new role as head coach at Arizona State University. When we chose him to teach our young men the business of football in 2011 and selected him as the head coach of our NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, we did so because we knew he always demonstrated that integrity and winning go hand-in-hand both on and off the field. We wish the best of luck."

Sammy Knight, All-Pro Cornerback and Saints Hall of Famer
"If I had a son going to play college football, I would want him to play for Herm Edwards and he cut me from the Kansas City Chiefs. Herm Edwards will be a great mentor and role model for all these young men representing the university that is lucky enough to sign him. He will coach those young men hard and help them reach their potential as men, students and players. Herm will hold them accountable as individuals on and off the field. Herm grew up in Southern California, coached in Tampa Bay, New York and Kansas City and has built a name that will allow him to go in any household in America and win over recruits and parents. Herm and his wife, Lia, are great examples of high character individuals that have been selfless in outreach to every community that they've been a part of. ASU and Herm Edwards will be a perfect fit."

Adam Schefter, ESPN Football Analyst
"There cannot and will not be another man that can help shape young men's lives in the way Herm Edwards can. Herm is a man of honor, integrity and hard work - just the type of example there should be for college men."

Eric Allen, All-Pro Cornerback, Sun Devil Legend and Eagles Hall of Fame
"I think Herm has a passion for and a knowledge of football that will overcome any absence from the sideline. His insight and experience with young football players will benefit Sun Devil Nation. I think we all owe Todd Graham for elevating the experience of our student-athletes at ASU. Herm's a coach that will continue the success we've had in the classroom and continue to build these young men to become ambassadors of ASU. The life blood of the program is the recruitment of high-quality student athletes and this is where Herm will have the most impact immediately. I'm excited to see the 2018 version of Sun Devil Football."

Jake Plummer, former Sun Devil and NFL quarterback
"Herm has a ton of energy. He's a real stand up dude who has a lot of morals and convictions that these guys need. Whoever they bring in, I'm going to be a big supporter of. I'm there to support what they do."

James Hasty, All-Pro Cornerback
"To the parents of current and future Sun Devils, if the development of your son is important as a student-athlete before, during and after his career then you will not find a better person to lead him in this journey than Herm Edwards."

Anthony Becht, ESPN Analyst and Former NFL Player
"Herm is a tremendous leader of men. He's a great motivator, communicator and will instill a strong moral compass in his players. I embraced his leadership in the NFL with the Jets. Coach Edwards will be an excellent leader for the Arizona State football team today and in the future."

Mike Haynes, NFL and College Football Hall of Famer/Sun Devil Alumnus
"I'd love to see the hiring of Herman Edwards. It would help recruiting for football as well as other ASU athletic teams. Herman has the energy, personality, background and experience to elevate the football program. He will be great on the field and in the community.Hiring Herman Edwards to coach ASU football could be one of the most positive, synergistic actions the program has taken. I thank Coach Graham and wish him and his family the best. He did a fine job bringing back old Sun Devils traditions and starting new ones."

Matt Barrie, ESPN broadcaster
"He's coached in the Under-Armor All-Star Game since 2008. He'll come back from that game and he'll tell me about all these players. He's there with these high school kids and he understands what next-level talent looks like. If you take aside from the Under-Armor All-Star Game and what Herm does, he will be able to get inside a living room of just about every athlete in the Southern California area and Arizona area. What's the biggest thing with recruiting? It is selling parents that their kid is going to being ok under their leadership and guidance during the time their son is in college. From being around Herm Edwards for five years, I can tell you there is no other person that will be able to get into a living room and sell families as quick as Herm will be able to do. When Herm Edwards gets to the podium, guess what's going to be all over the national media? The pitchfork.  Herm Edwards is up at 3:45 AM every morning, working out. He's got energy that you wouldn't believe. His personality is contagious. He has a way with players. He has a way with people."

Rudy Carpenter, former ASU QB
"He's going to bring the high energy and all the talking and positivity to the program. I do think he is a different type of shot in the arm for the program that, in my opinion, will really be good. It's just different when a guy like Herm Edwards walks into a home in Los Angeles, in Sacramento and in the Bay area."