Amid investigation, 1-2 start, Edwards out at ASU

Arizona State and Herm Edwards came to a mutual agreement to end his coaching tenure on Sunday, with athletic director Ray Anderson announcing the decision in a social media post.

Sun Devils players were brought together earlier in the day to be informed of the school’s decision, sources told ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Sunday. Running backs coach Shaun Aguano will be the interim coach.

“We have made the decision to make a change in the leadership of our football program, effective immediately. By mutual agreement, Coach Edwards and I have determined that he will relinquish duties as our head coach,” Anderson wrote. “At the core of this is doing what is best for our current team, staff and university. I understand the frustrations out there. We must do better and that starts with our decision today.”

Arizona State lost at home to Eastern Michigan, 30-21, Saturday night and is in the middle of a significant NCAA investigation. The Sun Devils are 1-2 and have lost consecutive games. Last week, Arizona State fell at Oklahoma State 34-17.

Edwards managed to hold on to his job after an up-and-down 2021, but his status all season has been shaky. Arizona State is still awaiting word on possible NCAA sanctions for allegedly hosting recruits on campus during an NCAA-mandated COVID-19 dead period in 2020.

Edwards, a former NFL coach, was considered an unconventional hire when he was tapped by university president Michael Crow and Anderson to lead the middling program. A former NFL agent, Anderson represented Edwards during his coaching days with the New York Jets.

Edwards spent the nine previous years as an NFL TV analyst and had not been a college coach since serving as San Jose State’s defensive backs coach from 1987 to 1989.

The loquacious coach changed the narrative his first few seasons in Tempe, proving to be an adept recruiter while leading the Sun Devils to two straight bowl appearances. The goodwill didn’t last.

Arizona State was hit hard by COVID-19 during the delayed 2020 season, finishing 2-2. The Sun Devils opened the 2021 season 5-1 before suffering consecutive ugly losses, giving up 56 straight points to Utah and Washington State.

Edwards was thought to be on the hot seat at the end of the season, but Anderson said he would remain as coach following a lopsided win over rival Arizona.

Arizona State had an exodus of players and coaches during the offseason, losing five assistant coaches, 11 players drafted or signed by NFL teams and numerous key players to the transfer portal. Edwards rebuilt the Sun Devils mainly through the transfer portal, adding 43 new players to the roster.

On Saturday night, in Arizona State’s second home game of the season, Eastern Michigan (2-1), of the Mid-American Conference, never trailed. It was the Eagles’ first victory over a Pac-12 team.

Eastern Michigan scored on four of its five first-half possessions, with only an interception stopping the Eastern offense. Arizona State, meanwhile, didn’t get a first down until late in the first quarter, when the Sun Devils were already behind 10-0.

“It boiled down to one thing — we couldn’t stop them from running the football,” Edwards said after the loss. “They physically got after us, on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to find a way to fix it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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