The Herm Edwards era at Arizona State has officially begun.
Edwards, who for the past nine years served as an ESPN NFL analyst, was introduced as the Sun Devils' football coach Monday, ushering in an era that will be scrutinized as a result of the unorthodox direction ASU vice president of athletics Ray Anderson decided to go.
"Some people will say that this is a very unusual move for anyone to make," Anderson said. "Someone in Herm Edwards' situation, they will say, 'This is a very weird move, in fact, for someone to make.'"
Anderson, who once represented Edwards as an agent, doesn't buy that line of thinking. And to explain why Edwards was the right choice, he first turned the podium over to Edwards' current agent, Phil de Picciotto, who vouched for Edwards' credibility.
"I have no doubt that he will put a lot of points on the scoreboard of life for everyone in this community," de Picciotto said.
For ASU fans, though, the more pressing concern will be on how Edwards' arrival will impact the scoreboard inside Sun Devil Stadium. The coach he's replacing, Todd Graham, went 46-31 in six years and led the team to five bowl games. For the most part, his time in Tempe will be remembered favorably, but there wasn't enough consistency to Anderson's liking.
"This train in football is leaving the station, and for any doubters that for whatever reason can't commit to get on right now, that's OK," Anderson said. "We understand. We're not going to take it personally.
"But as that train continues its path uphill, if for whatever reason at any time you decide you now want to get on board, then jump on board because we got a seat for you."
In Edwards, Anderson brought in a longtime friend who hasn't coached since 2008, when he led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 2-14 record. In eight years as an NFL head coach with the New York Jets and Kansas City, Edwards compiled a 54-74 record. Edwards' contract at ASU is for five years, but financial terms were not provided.
Edwards said he's not concerned the gap between his coaching jobs will be problematic.
"You don't forget how to coach," Edwards said. "They're not bringing me here to play, although I'll tell ya, I've got one hit left."
Coaching in the NFL, however, is also much different than the college game, where Edwards hasn't coached in an official capacity since overseeing the defensive backs for San Jose State from 1987-89. The closest thing he's done in the nearly three decades since was serve as the head coach at the Under Armour High School All-American game for the past eight years, when he mentored some of the most talented recruits in the country.
In the game in 2012, Edwards had both Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper on his team; to shed some light on the simplicity of coaching, he shared a story about introducing those players to each other that week.
"Jameis, this Amari. Amari, this is Jameis," Edwards recalled saying. "Here is the plan -- first day -- Jameis, you throw it to Amari. Amari, you catch it. Scored 40-something points. Ended up winning pretty good. That's kind of football."
Edwards was at home in front of the microphone. An enthusiastic speaker, he laid out his role in bringing higher-caliber players into the program than has been done at the school in the past.
"Athletes from all over the country, or whether it's here locally, should be coming back here. Guys in California and Los Angeles should be coming here," he said. "Why is this not the destination? Why can't it be? That's my job. That's my job to go into those homes, tell those parents this is the place you want to send your son."
In the news release announcing the hire Sunday night, ASU said Edwards' appointment won't be just a coaching change, but will include a complete overhaul of the model the program has operated under.
"It's a collaborative approach to managing the ASU football program that includes sport and administrative divisions, which will operate as distinct, but collective units focused on elevating all aspects of Sun Devil Football," the release said. "This structure will allow the department to form a multi-layered method to the talent evaluation and recruiting processes, increase its emphasis on both student-athlete and coach development and retention, and provide a boost in resource allocation and generation."
Anderson didn't provide many details to what exactly that means, but Edwards confirmed he will have a more overarching role that will rely heavily on the staff in place.
"I think a lot of coaches when they get these jobs, they become dominated in that I have to do everything," Edwards said. "Good CEOs delegate. When you are a leader, your No. 1 goal is you serve them."
Graham will coach the team in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against NC State on Dec. 29.