Scott Jones, Site Steward

I am now an official site steward for the state of Arizona.  My primary assignment is up at Agua Fria National Monument, but I’ll also be working on Ironwood Forest National Monument and Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The Arizona Site Steward Program is an organization of volunteers, sponsored by the public land managers of Arizona, whose members are selected, trained and certified by the State Historic Preservation Office and the Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission. The chief objective of the Steward Program is to report to the land managers destruction or vandalism of prehistoric and historic archaeological and paleontological sites in Arizona through site monitoring. Stewards are also active in public education and outreach activities.

I first learned about the program about a dozen years ago.  I was wandering around the Superstition Mountains near Hieroglyphic Canyon and ran across a fellow hiker.  We got to chatting a bit near the petroglyphs.  He pointed out some vandalism, I showed some disgust, and he said that I should consider becoming a steward.  I was interested in learning more, but never got around to researching it.

Fast forward to last year, when I got involved with the Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument.  Two board members, Shelley and Trudy, are both site stewards, and through their involvement in the program, I decided to take the step and get involved.  I completed the field training back in October, and then the classroom training in November, and received my volunteer agreements shortly thereafter.  Well, the regional coordinator, Lila, brought me out to the monument and showed me a couple of pretty cool sites last week.  I’m stoked about doing it.

While most site stewards have a particular site that they are assigned to monitor, Lila is going to let me wander around the monument a bit more.  Given my work with the monument, it’ll be a good opportunity to get a broader view of monument impacts than just focusing on a single site.

Warming to DE

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Dennis Erickson was introduced as the new head coach for Arizona State.  Admittedly, I had some initial concerns about the hire.  While several of those reservations will remain-at least until the season starts-I’m growing fonder and fonder of the hire.

In a nutshell, he might be the right guy.  He’s started to assemble a decent staff, while retaining some key members of Koetter’s crew (hey Bill Miller-stick around!).  He’s making some waves within the PAC-10, and his initial efforts at JC recruiting seem to be on track.  He’s brought some excitement and spirit to ASU football that was lacking.  We’re talking about who he might bring on board and completely ingoring the upcoming bowl game against Hawaii.  While that’s not fair to Koetter and this year’s seniors, it does demonstrate the new excitement that DE has created.

The real test will be seeing who Erickson fills out his staff with–particularly for the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator positions–and who he can land being LOI day in February.

The Dennis Erickson era begins

It’s being reported as official: Dennis Erickson has accepted the head coaching position at Arizona State.  While the contract terms have not been made public–in fact, ASU has yet to confirm–the Idaho Athletic Director says that Erickson has inked a 5-year deal.

While I maintain my reservations about Erickson’s ability and desire to build a long-term successful foundation for ASU football, there are few other coaches that met the criteria Lisa Love had set in her press conference two weeks ago.  He brings a winning résumé, a history of success at high levels (including two national championships), and quite a bit of head coaching experience, both in minor and major NCAA programs, as well as two stints in the NFL.

I’m going to do my best to support the team and Erickson, and I look forward to watching the Sun Devils live up to their potential in 2007 and 2008.

Erickson close to taking reins?

More and more, it seems like Dennis Erickson will be announced on Monday as ASU’s newest coach.  I’m partly relieved, partly disappointed, partly cautiously optimistic, and partly concerned. Erickson was my preference for the head coaching gig after Bruce Snyder was fired back in 2000.  At that point, I was looking for a proven winner, and one that would create some excitement.  Erickson looked like a great bet.  I was disappointed when when got Koetter, though I warmed to him during the 2002 season, and even defended his tenure during the roller-coaster ride this season.

But at this point, I’m not sure that Erickson is the right guy.  First, I’m proud of the off-the-field progress that Koetter made on graduation rates, and I appreciated the way he treated his players.  I’m not sure if DE would continue those ways.  Second, I’m no longer sold on DE’s ability to recruit and build the program.  His coaching résumé is pretty impressive, but a closer look shows that he doesn’t stick around very long.  He also seems to have his most successful season in year 2 (or, once, year 3) of his tenure.  When you take a look at how the teams have done in the years after he’s left, it’s not mind-blowing. 

That raises some serious questions as to whether he’s the type of coach that can raise the overall level of the program and sustain it, or whether he’s the type of coach that can get the most out of the players he currently has, without regard for improving the program.  We shouldn’t be looking for a quick fix coach that’ll win now by mortgaging the future.  DE comes off, to me at least, as just such a coach.

Of course, I’m not believing it until I see him up at the podium with Lisa Love wearing an ASU hat.

ASU close to hiring coach?

Jeff Metcalfe is reporting that ASU is down to three candidates for its head coaching position, and that an announcement will be made in the next two days. The finalists are: Mike Price, Dennis Erickson, and Mike Riley.

Please excuse me while I throw up.

I’m sorry, but none of these coaches inspires confidence that Koetter’s firing was for the best. Each of them is quite old, and while Erickson has had success, he’s had well-documented “off-the-field challenges” as well. He’s currently relegated to coaching Idaho. Yes, Idaho. Yes, the same Idaho that went 4-8 thsi season. Ditto for Mike Price, who’s accomplished four 10-win seasons, but little else, in 25 years of coaching. Yes, the same Mike Price who’s stuck in El Paso coaching UTEP. Yes, the same UTEP that went 5-7 this year. Finally, there’s Mike Price. While he has the Oregon State Beavers at 9-4 this year, it’s his first 9-win season ever and until midway through the season, still had an overall losing record as a head coach. He currently stands at 37-34. We fired Dirk Koetter for having a 40-33 record.

The deficiency most commonly associated with Koetter’s performance was underachieving in recruiting. Even more explicably, none of these coaches is known for their recruiting ability, and none is seems likely to do the hard work necessary to land those tough recruits. Hell, will any of these potential coaches–all of whom are just a couple of years away from receiving AARP membership cards in the mail–even be able to relate to the kids they’re trying to close?

We can only hope that this is all a smokescreen for the real hire. Lisa, you’re job depends on not messing this up.

Welcome back

Well, you may not have noticed, but the website has been moved to its final server, and I decided to start fresh with a clean WP install and a new MySQL database. That means that it might be a few days until you see a bunch of content here, but I’m confident that the move will be a good thing.