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Dan Wolken: Arizona State Hiring Herm Edwards Could Become 'Scandal Of Financial Irresponsibility'

A general view of the field taken during the game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the USC Trojans on October 1, 2005 at Sun Devil Stadium.

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 1: A general view of the field taken during the game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the USC Trojans on October 1, 2005 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. USC won 38-28. (Photo by Stephen Dunn /Getty Images)

Arizona State hired Herm Edwards with the thought that he would keep together Todd Graham's staff. It hasn't gone as planned.

Herm Edwards, who has never been a college head coach and hasn't coached in the college ranks at all since 1989, was a weird hire from the outset. The stated plan to keep both Sun Devil coordinators—OC Billy Napier and DC Phil Bennett—made sense from a continuity perspective, but also made the move to fire Todd Graham seem questionable at best, especially given the $12 million buyout involved.

The best laid plans of Sun Devils and men often go astray, as it turns out.

Bennett left the program for family issues, though he didn't go into much detail. Today, Napier took the head coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette. To make matters for the Sun Devils, today Edwards insinuated that he may only have two coaches stick around from Graham's staff.

Arizona State may have peaked a few years ago under Todd Graham, but he did bring the program back from an embarrassing three-win mark in 2016 to be bowl eligible in 2017. Graham is not the most popular college football coach, even if he he has been a largely successful one, but if athletic director Ray Anderson thought moving on from him was the best thing for the program, that is his right. Paying him $12 million and then having the contingency plan of Edwards retaining his staff, only to see that fall apart, is a bad look though.

USA Today's Dan Wolken is extremely critical of Arizona State, and thinks that if this goes south, Anderson and perhaps even Arizona State president Michael Crow who signed off on the hire, could lose their jobs.

Maybe in five years, we’ll look up and Edwards has usurped Chris Petersen, Chip Kelly, Clay Helton and David Shaw as the new king of the Pac 12, making the rest of us look completely silly for questioning Anderson’s instincts and football acumen.

If so, we’ll tip the cap.

If not, however, there will be no other option than for him to resign and perhaps school president Michael Crow as well.

We’re not being cavalier in saying that, either. If this doesn’t work out, it is not only a football embarrassment for Arizona State but a scandal of financial irresponsibility and corporate coziness that has raised a lot of eyebrows within the industry already.

Wolken also raises very fair questions about Anderson's previous relationship with Edwards. He served as Edwards' agent when he was an NFL coach, and it seems almost impossible that any other college football program would even consider bringing on the former Jets and Chiefs head coach.

What isn’t normal, however, is that Arizona State zeroed in on a coach with no relevant college experience whose relationship with Anderson and senior associate athletics director Ken Landphere wasn’t just personal but also financial. Anderson, a former agent, represented Edwards before he went to work for the NFL. And Landphere also represented Edwards when he worked at the Octagon agency until he came to Arizona State in September 2016.

While nobody would question the notion that Anderson was hired to run the department and make executive decisions, shouldn’t that at least raise a red flag with the school’s administration? When you’re talking about a $12 million decision to get rid of a coach who just had a winning season, it has to.

We've seen similarly questionable hires work out, and some hires that seemed like perfect matches have crashed and burned, so Herm Edwards deserves a shot here. Still, between the coordinator departures and the early exodus from Arizona State's recruiting class, it's hard to see a worse start for his tenure.

[USA Today]