When Arizona State hired Herm Edwards to coach their football team earlier this month, they planned to retain both offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett from the previous staff. It was an unusual move, since most coaching changes involve entire staffs turning over, but Edwards hasn’t coached football for nine years, so he figured to need all the help he could get. ASU’s technobabble press release promised a “multi-layered method” emphasizing “coach development and retention,” and Edwards said he wanted to keep both coordinators because, “They’re football guys.”
The “retention” arm of ASU’s plan is not going so well. Edwards started his first official week on the job Monday, and both Napier and Bennett are already gone. Bennett announced on Tuesday that he’d be leaving the team for “personal reasons,” which reportedly include health issues. Edwards promoted Napier to associate head coach last week, but this morning, he left for a much smaller program, as Louisiana-Lafayette announced that Napier will be their new head coach starting next season. Quarterback Manny Wilkins will soon have his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years. Edwards released a statement reassuring ASU fans that he will hire more coaches:
“I can assure all Sun Devil fans that I am working diligently on hiring a coaching staff that will fit what we are trying to accomplish at ASU, led by an incredible senior quarterback in Manny Wilkins,” Edwards’ statement read. “Assistant head coach and running backs coach John Simon and co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Rob Likens will be a part of my staff going forward.”
Edwards is currently recruiting before the early signing period opens next week. The timing of ASU’s flurry of departures couldn’t have come at a worse time, and Edwards seems as surprised as he was by the small football jersey.