Over four years ago, Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson announced the hiring of Herm Edwards as the 24th head coach in Sun Devil football history. During the announcement, he preached about a visionary ‘New Leadership Model.’
That term coined by Anderson was soon trivialized into what is known today as the ‘NFL model.’ It’s a lot of administrative jargon, but at the time, the Sun Devil athletics leadership team believed they were tapping into something that could propel the program into a future of unprecedented success.
In essence, the athletic department would double as an NFL-style front office, and the head coach, Edwards, would double as somewhat of a ‘CEO of football,’ managing more than simply the X’s and O’s.
On the field, the results have been far from revolutionary. The Sun Devils are better than they were in the final years under former coach Todd Graham, but not by a wide-margin.
Couple that with the ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting allegations, and the fabric of this model already appears to be fraying. Instead of outthinking their competitors, Arizona State has appeared to outsmart themselves.
And yet, the NFL model playbook is still in the hands of the Sun Devil football program, and they are running it. Over the past four years, the Sun Devils have consistently reached into the pool of former NFL players and coaches to fill out their staff.
On Monday, more evidence was brought forward of Arizona State’s commitment to their philosophy with the announcement that former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick was joining the staff as an Offensive Analyst and Advisor to the Head Coach.
Excited to announce the addition of Super Bowl-winning head coach Brian Billick as a new Offensive Analyst and Advisor to the Head Coach.— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) January 24, 2022
Welcome to Tempe, Coach Billick! ☀️
In his time with the Ravens from 1999 to 2007, Billick posted a 85-67 record and consistently had his teams in playoff contention. In Billick’s era in Baltimore, the Ravens were known for their fearsome defense, including one of the best of all-time with the 2000 Ravens. Those Ravens allowed an NFL-record low 165 points that season on the way to a Super Bowl title.
“I have known Brian since the 1980s and he is a person whom I completely trust,” Edwards said. “He has built one of the finest reputations the NFL has ever known, serving as a head coach, an assistant coach and as a respected television analyst.”
“Brian has one of the brightest offensive minds in football today and that is especially why I hired him.”
Familiarity with those in the Sun Devil program. was a major reason why Billick is involving himself with coaching once again. Not only does Billick have longstanding relationships with his athletic director and head coach, but he also will be reunited with Marvin Lewis, his former defensive coordinator in Baltimore.
Lewis is now a co-defensive coordinator with Antonio Pierce, himself a former NFL player and Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants.
“I have known Coach Edwards for over 40 years and both Ray Anderson and Marvin Lewis for almost that long,” says Billick. “I was working the Hula Bowl two weeks ago with Mike Smith and ASU reached out to me at that time. I really enjoyed tapping into the players there and helping them to highlight their abilities.”
“They proposed this opportunity to me, to have another set of eyes looking at and evaluating Sun Devil football and I thought it was the right time for me to make this move.”
Billick is being brought on to diagnose and work on the offensive issues that plagued the Sun Devils down the stretch in 2021. While the defense remained a point of strength throughout the season, quarterback Jayden Daniels regressed in the final weeks to the point where he was not much of a factor in the offensive scheme.
As a result, the Sun Devils finished in the bottom ranks of the Pac-12 in most major passing stats like completion percentage (11th), passing yards (11th) and passing touchdowns (10th).
Arizona State has yet to see its NFL model take over college football like it had originally hoped, but there is no denying the collective IQ and pedigree of the coaching staff was raised by Billick’s hiring.
The coaching hires in Edwards era have been splashy, but the jury is still out on whether that will lead to success on the field.