Ed note: This post was bumped to the front page because it was well-written. Great job! -Cory
Dennis Erickson is the head coach for the Arizona State University Football team. He came to the university with two national titles and a storied past that gave ASU hopes that he could work his magic in Tempe. However, he was only able to put together a winning season once out of five years. Erickson has been told by the university that he will not return for the 2012 season, but will get to coach in the bowl game.
In his first season, 2007, Erickson guided the team to a 10-3 record and a berth into the Holiday Bowl only to lose. After the first year it was all down hill, the team did not have an above .500 record for four years in a row. Erickson has a 31-29 record over these five seasons.
The 2011 season was probably the most disappointing to ASU fans. The university nabbed a partnership with Nike to bring all new uniforms and ad campaigns to the school with the mantra of ‘It’s Time.’ The team only lost four players to graduation, leaving veteran experience galore. There were 27 seniors on this team. That’s enough to have seniors on the field at all times. Teams that have 27 seniors don’t end up 6-6.
If you break down and look at what 2011 what really meant to the Sun Devils, it’s quite telling of why Erickson got fired. USC was still on probation and not bowl eligible. So if they went undefeated it would not have mattered, they could have played spoiler all year long. USC finished 10-2. They would have won the Pac-12 South outright. But with USC out who does that leave to compete with ASU? A very weak UCLA team that ended up winning the south division with a 6-6 record.
The ‘It’s Time’ campaign was very apt for the Sun Devils, but Erickson squandered it. The team started 5-1 with a huge victory over USC and a heart breaking loss to Illinois. After that the ASU lost five of six, including four in a row to end 6-6 as they did in 2010.
Now at the end of the 2011 season, ASU is bowl eligible and will fire Erickson after the bowl game. But should they let him stay for the bowl? In my opinion no. He squandered the best opportunity the team has had in years in 2011, he doesn’t show fire on the sidelines, doesn’t discipline his players and the team overall is emotionally drained.
Even in the game against Cal, the players didn’t seem angry they lost. They seemed done with the season. They just want to start out fresh. I think the team would be better off with having Noel Mazzone, the offensive coordinator, as the interim coach for the bowl game. All season long Mazzone’s offense has not struggled with 33.9 points per game and having the 11th ranked pass offense in the nation.
Leave the team with someone who the players know. It’s the last hurrah for the seniors, let them get back what they’ve lost in the last four years and do something Erickson couldn’t do while at ASU, win a bowl game.