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Tonis: Anderson, Edwards’ train off to bumpy start

If Tennessee is a cluster, what’s this?

NCAA Football: Arizona State-Herman Edwards Press Conference Tom Tingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say the first couple weeks upon the Herm Edwards Express are not going as planned.

Since Edwards was announced as the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils on Dec. 3 — it’s been less than two weeks? — almost nothing positive has happened in regards to the football team.

However, Anderson felt the need to call out the Tennessee Volunteers and their coaching search Thursday.

In an interview with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Anderson spoke about what a trainwreck that search was.

“The athletic department there is perceived there as a cluster,” Anderson told Dodd. “Their athletic director, now Phil Fulmer, in the athletic director’s world is a pariah. It is not a good situation.”

You know what else is not a good situation? Yours.

That’s right, a hiring process that involved the besmirching of a man’s character yielded a better result than your own.

Tennessee got a national champion and a proven recruiter in Jeremy Pruitt. Anderson got a TV personality in an era where no one cares about TV personalities.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone agrees that what happened in order for Tennessee to land Pruitt was a disaster. But what is to gain from Anderson, a figurehead of a worse athletic department (ASU currently has zero Directors Cup points), trashing another program’s process?

The only process here seemed to be firing Graham and hiring Edwards, anyway.

Aside from the perceived, if not actually, cronyism involved in the hiring, nothing so far has gone according to Anderson’s master plan.

He spoke at length about retaining last year’s coordinators in order to build continuity within the program, something Todd Graham failed to do over his final few seasons in Tempe.

Tuesday, Phil Bennett told Edwards thanks, but no thanks and announced he would be leaving following the bowl game. Friday, Billy Napier did the same, but for a head coaching job as the leader of the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns. And there are reports that offensive line coach Rob Sale is following Napier, leaving another spot unfilled.

Rob Likens, formerly wide receivers coach, was named offensive coordinator later Friday, but the damage is still done and one or two more offensive assistants will need to be hired before the season starts, in addition to every defensive coaching slot.

Here’s the thing: Edwards should be able to go out and hire his own guys, and there may be better options available than the ones who left. But when you build a plan around keeping last year’s guys around, then lose them both within a week of each other, the plan looks, at best, half baked and at worst, stupid.

And what about the players? Anderson stated the need for four and five-star recruits to come to Tempe, not just the parade of three-stars that defined Arizona State under previous leadership. Well, at least they’ve done a good job purging the “undesirables.”

Five recruits have de-committed from the program so far. While that’s not the end of the world, ASU is now down to 10 commits for the 2018 class, which is ranked 10th in the Pac-12 per 247Sports.

This can all get turned around and become a great offseason, but with nine coaching slots and 15 open scholarships, there’s work to be done for Anderson, Edwards and company, but not a lot of time.

The Edwards Express wasn’t full to begin with, but it seems to be emptying out piece by piece as we get further away from the boisterous intro press conference. People are uncomfortable, but definitely not because they can’t find a seat. So just sit back and relax, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Next stop: irrelevance.