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.