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Monday Mailbag: Director’s Cup chatter, football coaching search and more

Always something to talk about

Richard Martinez, House of Sparky

Arizona State football managed to keep its head above water heading into the bye week, and fall sports are heating up as we hit sub-100 temperatures in Tempe. Of course, this means we are back with Monday Mailbag after another hiatus.

People hold so much narrative hate/criticism over the Learfield Director’s Cup results not involving massive numbers from any of the ‘Big 3’ sports such as football, baseball and basketball. But they’re recently fantastic. How much of that is ASU doing things properly as opposed to the black ops conspiracy that’s out there now? -ArizonaSon

JOHNSON: I’m not totally au courant on any Black Ops conspiracy, per se. Maybe we’ll have to bring in Donald Sutherland’s character from ‘JFK’ to sort that out. In my interactions with people who work for and inside the athletic department, I would say the overwhelming majority have their best intentions in mind for any decision regarding Arizona State.

The Learfield Director’s Cup numbers are actually much more palatable than an uninformed public might think. Maybe the numbers have taken a slide since April of this year, but I think Arizona State’s spot underscores just how impressive the so-called “Olympic sports” have performed in Tempe.

Take from this what you will. The top guys at the athletic department obviously take interest in every sport which the Sun Devils participate in at a varsity level, but it is worth noting that those sports where the head coach is more or less left to his or her own devices has tended to succeed more at Arizona State. For example, you will see Ray Anderson in the North end zone at football games. You won’t see him at every golf tournament or triathlon event.

Will Nesta Jade Silvera be punished for spraying Caleb Williams in the face last week? - DevilForce1

KR: The ASU media staff loves, and I mean really loves, putting Nesta Jade Silvera in front of the microphone. If that’s a reflection of how he’s viewed within the program, he’s doing just fine with his on-field antics.

On the other hand, sophomore end B.J. Green II will miss the first half of the Stanford game after being ejected late in the fourth quarter on a roughing-the-passer with targeting call on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Travez Moore got an unsportsmanlike conduct, and D.J. Taylor received an unnecessary roughness penalty. The dumb penalties continue for ASU.

Any clarity on Herm’s settlement or if Anderson will be making the next hire? - Troll S.

KR: There’s nothing new in terms of Herm’s settlement since Ray Anderson’s press conference back in mid-September. Anderson said himself that it might be more difficult to work out based on the university’s insistence that Edwards was not fired, and he did not resign. There was clearly no language in his contract, which was scheduled to run through 2024, that was associated with this kind of scenario.

“I will certainly be involved,” Anderson said.

To what extent? He would not clarify.

In terms of proper candidate characteristics:

“You have to be ready and willing to deal with transfer portal and NIL and all the other things,” Anderson said. “There’s going to be a more intellectual, or more business-type, head coach candidate coming in.”

As I write this, Matt Rhule is clearing out his office in Carolina, and he has been heavily rumored to make a return to the college game after his inevitable firing. Rhule is heralded for his efforts at Temple and Baylor. He worked with current ASU offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas at both schools. He has to be on Anderson’s short list.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Panthers owe Rhule a $40 million buyout. Could he be sympathetic to ASU’s cause, knowing they are going through a settlement of their own? It might be a stretch, but you can’t help but think Tempe is on his mind.

Why does offense still *struggle*? - Zoon P.

KR: These football questions have us at House of Sparky revisiting our timing of the Mailbag posts. After Zoon inquired about the offense, ASU upset No. 21 Washington 45-38 at home, backed by an honorable showing by backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet (15-for-21, 182 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception) after Emory Jones (7-for-9, 59 yards) went down with a head injury.

The offense fired on all cylinders for the first time since NAU, an FCS opponent.

Three receivers (Thompson, Sanders, Badger) had 50-plus yards receiving. X Valladay returned to the 100-yard club. The offensive line did not allow a sack. Ironically enough, after Zoon’s question, the Sun Devil offense rolled.

To bring everyone down-to-Earth, Washington’s defense is in the midst of an implosion. They are allowing 35.6 points per-game after-the-fact in the conference. It might have been great timing, but Stanford and Colorado are currently the bottom-two teams in total defense in the Pac-12. There isn’t a better time to get hot.

The bye week comes timely for Jones, who will now likely go through concussion protocols.

“(There’s) competition in everything and I think in the quarterback room, it’ll be competition and competition makes everybody better,” interim head coach Shaun Aguano said. “And so, when I say battle, I’m not saying that he’s going to be the starter, but it’s going to be a good battle from a competition standpoint. They’ll make each other better.”


All media availability and practice viewing has been pushed back to Wednesday for this week. Aguano and players will speak then.