SCOTTSDALE — Arizona State made headlines when it chose to fire football coach Todd Graham. Not only was the hiring of Herm Edwards a surprise but so, too, was the announcement of a new leadership model that would reflect an NFL structure.
The decisions by Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson attracted national attention. Some greeted them with skepticism. Others, like those at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, expressed respect for Edwards but uncertainty about the model.
“I’ve read a little bit about what Ray Anderson is doing and I don’t pretend to fully understand it but these things are particular to individual institutions and what fits you,” Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said Thursday. “I worked with Ray when I was in the Pac-12 and he’s a really bright guy with lots of ideas and there’s no doubt that folks will be watching to see actually what it is and how it works out, what kind of impact it does have.”
Barbour, the athletic director at California from 2004 to 2014, said her program has been working off a model that has “worked for a really long time” in terms of “integrated our athletic program, our football program into the academy and into the institution.”
Not surprisingly, the Fiesta Bowl coaches had their minds on Saturday’s game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“I don’t really have an opinion (on the hire and new model),” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “I don’t pay attention to other programs. We just worry about Washington and make sure that we’re going to do the best job we can.
“Coach Edwards has a great reputation. I’ve met him a little bit, I’m sure he’ll do a really good job there, but we haven’t played those guys with the new regime and so we’re always just focused on ourselves.”
Penn State coach James Franklin had a similar reaction.
“I know Herm, I’ve interacted with Herm a little bit but I don’t know Herm very well,” Franklin said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him and those types of things but I’m spending my time focused on Penn State and Washington.”
Though the national media has turned its attention toward bowl and playoff games, ASU’s program will likely be a hot topic again as its success or failure unfolds.