Arizona State coach Herm Edwards spoke to the media after the team’s first football practice in more than two weeks. Here is a quick notebook on his responses to questions asked by the panel of journalists.
His health and experience in quarantine
Edwards has recovered after contracting COVID-19 on Nov. 13 and was in good spirits after finishing the mandatory 12-day isolation period.
He acknowledged that returning to coaching football during the pandemic was a high-risk situation and said he expected to deal with being infected at some point.
“I told my wife when we first started this deal, ‘You know what, I’m probably going to catch it,’” Edwards said. “I was well aware of that. I knew exactly what I was walking into and I did everything possible not to get it.
Edwards was not allowed to be in contact with his family during isolation, even during meals.
He said he spent a lot of the period reflecting on the past few months and was grateful for all the phone calls and text messages he received that expressed concern over his health.
“You forget about how many friends you really have and people you know in your life,” Edwards said.
On the decision to cancel a third straight game
Due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases on the team, ASU was forced to cancel its last three games against Cal, Colorado, and Utah. The latter opponent would have been the Sun Devils’ first home game this season.
“We didn’t want to hold up Utah any longer,” Edwards said. “They needed to know, so we just felt it was in the best interest of the health and safety of players, coaches, for this whole football team to not participate this week.”
ASU dropped its opening matchup to USC 28-27 before the program shut down. With half of the limited schedule already scrapped, only two games remain to be played.
Barring further cancellations, the team will face UCLA at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 5 before traveling to Arizona a week later to defend the Territorial Cup for a fourth consecutive year.
On today’s practice and outlook for the spring
Although Edwards declined to disclose which players and members of the coaching staff were available for this morning’s practice, he mentioned that the workouts were light and hopes the team will complete everything within the coming days.
“The great thing is that we went on the field today,” Edwards said. “That’s all we can control.”
Edwards mentioned that no players have approached him about opting out for the remainder of the season due to health concerns over the virus.
He also anticipates ASU’s spring practice slate to be held earlier next year although he admitted a lot can change between now and then, especially if a vaccine for the virus becomes available.
Leadership during the pandemic
For Edwards, navigating the hurdles and obstacles a normal football season presents requires a certain level of transparency and commitment to players.
When operating in a pandemic where safety and responsibility are paramount, good leadership during uncertain times becomes all that more important.
“One thing they know about their head coach is that he’s always going to tell them the truth,” Edwards said. “And he’s always going to be consistent, and he’s always going to give them hope. They know it, they feel it, and they see it.”
As ASU prepares to tackle the rest of its fractured schedule, the Sun Devils can take comfort in Edwards’ confidence and forward-thinking mindset, even with this unfortunate season and how it has played out.
“The players understood that Coach won’t panic, he’ll have a plan, we’ll have to adjust, and we’re going to move forward,” Edwards said. “We’re not going to dwell on what has happened.”