Erickson to coach Sun Devils

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State turned to a well-traveled coach Monday, introducing Dennis Erickson as the man to lead the Sun Devils' football program out of mediocrity.

The hiring, announced at a news conference on the ASU campus, marks the third Pac-10 coaching job for Erickson. He previously had stints at Washington State and Oregon State.

"It's exciting for me to have an opportunity to come to Arizona State and compete for the BCS championship, to compete for the Pac-10," Erickson said. "I'm looking forward to elevating the program."

The 59-year-old coach has a 149-64-1 record in 18 seasons that, in addition to the two Pac-10 schools, included stops in Idaho (twice), Wyoming and Miami. He also coached six years in the NFL, four with Seattle and two with San Francisco. He had signed a
five-year contract with Idaho a year ago only to leave after one season.

Terms of his Arizona State contract were not revealed, pending ratification by the state Board of Regents.

Erickson comes to Arizona State after one season at Idaho, where he had taken the job where his career started. He was out of coaching in 2005 after being fired by the 49ers following a 2-14 season.

His Vandals went 4-8 last season, and his abrupt departure left Idaho athletic director Rob Spear "very disappointed." Spear said Saturday night that Erickson had told him he was accepting the ASU job.

Erickson said the move to a higher-profile program was an opportunity that he didn't want to pass up.

"Every move that I've made has been to meet a challenge in the business that I'm in, which is college football," Erickson said. "When I went to the University of Idaho, I wasn't planning on leaving. Sometimes in this business opportunities come at different
times, and that just happened. To have an opportunity to come here, whether I was there a year or five years, was something that I wanted to do, so that's why I made that decision."

Erickson replaces Dirk Koetter, who was fired after six seasons.

Erickson's biggest success came at Miami, where the Hurricanes were 63-9 in six seasons and won national championships in 1989 and 1991. He left Miami for the NFL's Seahawks, where he was 31-33 from 1995 through 1998. Erickson was fired by the Seahawks and replaced by Mike Holmgren.

His best coaching performance might have been at Oregon State. Erickson took over the Beavers' program in 1999, when OSU had an NCAA Division I-record streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons. His first team went 7-5 and appeared in the Oahu Bowl. His second Oregon State team capped an 11-1 season with a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl rout of Notre Dame.

"Those four years at Oregon State were the proudest years of my life," Erickson said.

Erickson left the Beavers in 2003, accepting a five-year, $12.5 million contract with the 49ers.

"He's not only a big-game coach, he is a big-season coach and he is a big program builder, which we are seeking," athletic director Lisa Love said.

His career, while highly successful, has been clouded at times. Miami faced NCAA sanctions after his stint there, and in 1995 he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. His players, especially at Miami, were known for their overly aggressive and sometimes
undisciplined behavior.

"You talk about discipline," Erickson said. "I see it happen sometimes but I don't see that's something that has happened regularly in Dennis Erickson's program at all. We play hard, we play with a passion and we play the game the way I think it should be played."

Erickson called his DUI experience "an awful mistake, and it's something I've dealt with all my life. It was an awful mistake and I'm more than a little humbled by it."

Love said she looked into all the reported problems he had and she said the NCAA violations at Miami began before he got there and that he said he was unaware of them while he was there.

She said she talked to compliance officers at schools where Erickson coached.

"We found that they gave him excellent marks of being very, very much involved and very committed to rule compliance," Love said.

Love said she was not concerned about the possibility that Erickson would jump to another opportunity from Arizona State.

"Ambition does not bother me at all," she said.

The Sun Devils are aiming to move into the upper reaches of the Pac-10. Koetter's teams earned bowl appearances each of the last three seasons, but he had a 21-28 overall conference mark and was 0-10 against Pac-10 teams in California.

Koetter will coach Arizona State through its Dec. 24 appearance against Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.