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ASU Coaching Search: Suddenly, Dennis Erickson Doesn't Seem So Bad

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I pose a question. Considering what has transpired, was life with Dennis Erickson this bad?

I'll allow you a moment to extinguish your torches and put down your pitchforks.

Let's back up.

Was firing Dennis Erickson the right move? Yes, absolutely. His time had run its course in Tempe and the program needed a culture change in the worst way. Five years after he took over the program, his tenure had resulted in more disappointment, angst and frustration than wins.

But leave it to ASU to transform a golden opportunity to reshape their program and to put it into a position to finally tap into its long dormant potential into a horrifying spectacle of mismanagement.

The gut-wrenching details of this search to replace Erickson have been written about in great length over the last three weeks, so there is no need to rehash those. The embarrassment the university has brought upon itself is immediate to any and all followers of the sport, but they are not the first school to bungle a coaching search and strike out on their desired candidates.

However, the latest developments in this story are nearly fatal.

Accoridng to reports, ASU's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Broussard is leaving the school to take a job at UCLA, and current offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone may not be far behind.

One of Erickson's greatest strengths was in recruiting, and he had assembled a marvelous class of new Sun Devils for 2012. Even after his firing, many recruits remained committed to the school because of the skill of Broussard and the allure of Mazzone's offense.

That group of young players that was destined to help bring about a new era of Sun Devil success on the gridiron will now crumble, with many of the pieces winding up at UCLA. The Devils can now look forward to four years of annual on-field reminders of how badly this situation has become.

There's a word for this: disaster.

Again, firing Erickson was the right move at the time. But no one in their right mind could have possibly foreseen the level of ineptitude that ASU has shown in this search and the consequences it has begat.

With the gift of hindsight, would it have been so awful to keep Erickson around for another year, secure this bumper recruiting crop, keep Broussard and Mazzone, having the security in place to add to the staff with a great assistant like SMU's Adrian Klemm, all the while quietly begin looking at coaching options for 2013?

Compared to what the Sun Devils have now, that sounds like a godsend.

What happened during the month of November was terrible, with ASU falling from 6-2 with a South division title a certainty to a .500 team jumping at a low-level bowl game mauling at the hands of Boise State.

But what has happened in December is far more horrifying and damaging. The severe repercussions of this fiasco will haunt ASU for seasons to come.

Another year of mediocrity, penalties and the charm of "irregardless" wouldn't be so bad after all.

Follow me on Twitter @BDenny29 for the latest ASU coaching news and analysis