ASU football can still reach high aspirations under Herm Edwards, Ray Anderson says

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson still thinks ASU football can reach new heights under Herm Edwards.

When Herm Edwards was hired as Arizona State football coach, ASU Athletic director Ray Anderson made some lofty proclamations about the Sun Devil football program, including being in the Top 3 in the Pac-12, the Top 15 in the nation and going to major bowl games with regularity.

It has not happened in the coach's first four seasons. But it still can, according to Anderson, who said he never put a timeline on his aspirations for the football team under Edwards in an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday.

Appearing on the Bickley and Marotta Show, the ASU athletic director had this to say when asked if his proclamations for the football program upon Edwards' hire were "over-zealous."

More:ASU President Michael Crow explains why Herm Edwards is still Sun Devils' football coach

"Not at all, not at all, you've got to have high aspirations," Anderson told Dan Bickley and Vince Marotta. "ASU had never reached those measurements. And so the expectations is that yes, we want to be Top 3, we want to be Top 15 in the country. We want to surpass anything that the university football team has been able to do on a consistent basis because it's been a long long time since anybody, if ever, can say you've done that on a consistent basis. But we didn’t say we were going to do it in 2 or 3, 4 years, we said that was our aspiration and we retain that as our aspiration.

“Anyone who wanted to say you were making a promise that you would do it in the next two three or four years, quite frankly, that’s an interpretation that I think is not correct. Do we have aspirations to build to that? Absolutely, yes we do. But it's going to take some time because it hasn’t been done before and so it wasn't going to miraculously occur in two or three, four years. We never said that. So I don't regret it. I guess the only thing I would have said is by the way folks, it hasn’t been done here, very frankly, ever, and it’s going to take some time to get there. Don’t impose a timeline on us that hasn’t existed for prior programs.”

More:Arizona State football's Herm Edwards slammed for 'trust' comments, lack of accountability

Many have cited ASU's inability to reach those goals as reason for the school to fire Anderson and Edwards, in addition to the recruiting investigation that has come under Edwards' watch.

The Sun Devils are 25-18 in Edwards' four seasons, but just pulled in an historically low recruiting class.

Anderson preached patience with the football program in the interview.

"I would tell them big picture that we don't believe that, we still have lots of confidence that this program is still going to accomplish some things," he said Wednesday. "Yes, we acknowledge we've had some struggles, but overall we advanced the program. I would tell them to understand that college athletics and certainly football and basketball in general has changed drastically in the last two years, certainly with the transfer portal, which really translates to college free agency and now the robust name, image and likeness activities that are going on, which translate very frankly, into pay for play. The model for college football for purposes of this discussion has definitely changes so we're going to have to adjust our model that we instituted when we brought Herm in here. We're going to have to be, I think as is appropriately described as a hybrid model in what we are going to have to do because we are not going to be able to get in an arms race with the new free agency and the new pay for play structure that is now very prevalent. We're going to now have to differentiate ourselves by training and developing at a superior level for those who aspire to go to the professional ranks. We're going to have to adjust our model because the college model has changed. We're going to do that. We're under process of doing that and we're very excited, certainly our players, our coaches, our staff are excited to go into spring ball with open competition, certainly at the quarterback position and in getting ready to go into summer and getting ready for a 2022 season that internally we believe is going to be very positive. That's what we would say to our fans."

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

Interestingly, Anderson mainly skirted around a question about accountability for Edwards as the coach of the ASU football program in the midst of the investigation, saying he really couldn't comment on it.

“You got an NCAA investigation ongoing so we can’t comment, as you know, publicly about it," he said. "To give you an assessment would be doing that. What I can tell you is that the NCAA process controls here, we do not control it. As you know, that process can be glacial, by any standards. … We just got to be patient as required. So we’re going to do that before we make any final determinations of our program, who leads it going into the long-term future. One thing I can tell you is that I certainly personally don’t believe any rush to judgment is justified here in this case at ASU and will remain adamant about that.”

ASU is scheduled to kick off its season on Sept. 1 against Northern Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

More:Moore: Herm Edwards and Jayden Daniels leaving ASU? Trust me, it's not happening

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