ASU football continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons

Kent Somers
Arizona Republic

Four years into the Herm Edwards regime, Arizona State’s football program was supposed to be contending for Pac-12 titles and major bowl berths. Remember Athletic Director Ray Anderson saying that when he hired his old friend and former client as head coach?

Instead, we watch as a mediocre program wilts, with arrogance, stubbornness and unwarranted loyalty robbing it of a chance to regain its health anytime soon.

Are Anderson and university President Michael Crow so arrogant they don’t recognize the Sun Devils have become a nationwide joke?

Are they so stubborn they can’t admit the Edwards’ experiment is a failure?

And why are they loyal to Edwards, who has produced more NCAA investigations (1), than Pac-12 titles (0) and major bowl berths (0)?

For some reason, Edwards still has a job, which means ASU remains a fixture in the news cycle for all the wrong reasons.

The latest broke Thursday when quarterback Jayden Daniels, the starter the last three years, entered the transfer portal. Also Thursday, a video circulated of Daniels’ locker being cleaned out and someone saying “(Expletive) sucked anyways.”

The video was deleted later that day, and attaching specific context to it is difficult. Was it one player who didn’t like Daniels? More? Would any of his teammates be sorry to see him go?

It’s hard to answer.

But what’s undeniable is that it was a bad look for ASU. Another one. Thousands of football players entered the transfer portal over the last few months, but I don’t remember any other announcements being accompanied by a video of teammates watching a locker being cleaned out.

More:Jayden Daniels transfer reaction: Arizona State football 'a mess' under coach Herm Edwards

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels warms up for the team's NCAA college football game against BYU on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

From strictly a football standpoint, ASU might be able to adequately replace Daniels, especially as a passer. He had as many touchdowns as interceptions last year. Daniels has the arm strength to play in the NFL, but not the accuracy.

He was far more dangerous as a runner than he was as a passer. Whatever coach gets him next has a lot of work to do.

There is no experienced quarterback ready to step in, but ASU does have options, including Daniels’ backup, Trenton Bourguet, and Paul Tyson, a transfer from Alabama.

Daniels’ departure, however, is alarming because of his relationship with Edwards. He was in Edwards’ first full recruiting class and began starting his freshman year. Many times Edwards spoke of the special relationship the two shared, with Daniels often dropping by Edwards’ office to talk about things other than football.

To Edwards, Daniels was special, and the quarterback was treated as such.

Daniels’ mother, Regina Jackson, had uncommon access to the program. In a story last summer, Yahoo reported that a file of reports sent anonymously to the NCAA contained screenshots of e-mails that allegedly showed Jackson helping to book $1,100 worth of flights for recruits and accompanying adults.

Jackson denied the allegations.

In the days after last season ended, there were rumors Daniels might transfer, but on Dec. 2 he posted a video announcing his return for the 2022 season.

At the time, Edwards said he found the rumor that Daniels might transfer funny because “he was never leaving.”

More:Jayden Daniels transfer options: Pac-12 schools among landing spots for ASU football QB

Oct 8, 2021; Tempe, Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) runs for a touchdown against Stanford during Pac-12 action at Sun Devil Stadium.

It’s not so funny now, especially since ASU might have missed out on landing Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler, who went to Pinnacle High, because Daniels had committed to returning. Rattler is now at South Carolina.

The decision by Crow and Anderson to keep Edwards in the midst of turmoil is perplexing. Edwards, after all, is ultimately responsible for the turmoil. He’s often been described as the CEO of a program structured to look, and work, like an NFL front office.

Whenever Edwards, Anderson and Crow decide they can comment on the NCAA investigation, let’s hope they don’t try to pass Edwards off as a chief executive betrayed by assistants he trusted too much.

That won’t work, especially given reports that Edwards also met with recruits when no one in the country was allowed to do.

The investigation, which is ongoing, cost five assistants their jobs, including the offensive and defensive coordinators. But Edwards stayed.

The investigation contributed to a recruiting class ranked last in the Pac-12 and next-to-last among Power Five schools. But Edwards stayed.

Now Daniels is transferring and the obvious question is what’s next for Sun Devil football?

I don’t have the answer, but I’m guessing Edwards stays on the job no matter what comes. His bosses, for some reason, believe the man who led the program off a cliff is going to miraculously save it from reaching the rockiest of bottoms.

More:Spencer Rattler's dad: Money didn't keep QB from transferring to Arizona State football

Reach Kent Somers at Follow him on twitter @kentsomers