Herm Edwards appears set to become the next head football coach at Arizona State University -- and naturally, Sun Devil fans have a few questions.
The question asked most often is whether Edwards can do a better job of recruiting top athletes to ASU than outgoing coach Todd Graham did during his six years in Tempe. It's an important question, as recruiting is the name of the game in college football, and if you can't convince 4- and 5-star athletes to commit to your program, you're not going to be a championship contender.
But I have a much simpler question -- one that usually goes unasked simply because it's a given among most incoming college football coaches. But it's a question that demands an answer.
Can Herm Edwards coach college football players?
Edwards has over 20 years of coaching experience, including eight years as a head coach. But let's break it down:
-He has a lifetime 54-74 record as a head coach, including a 2-14 record in his last season in the NFL.
-He hasn't coached in nearly a decade, save for the Under Armour All-America Game.
-He hasn't coached college football since the Berlin Wall came down.
-Most importantly: He's never been a head coach -- or even a coordinator -- at the collegiate level.
There's obviously plenty to like about Edwards. There's no debating he's a likable, charismatic guy. He'll be able to charm recruits and their families when he visits their homes. He's also one heck of a motivational speaker (although the Suns just had a guy like that, and that didn't work out so well).
But that one big, basic question -- whether Herm Edwards can coach, develop and relate to today's 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds -- is an unknown. And that's kind of a big deal.
Does Edwards, who has been a pro football analyst for ESPN since 2009, truly understand today's on-field college football product, which has changed a bit in the last three decades? Does he know how to get the most out of guys in their late teens and early 20s on the field? Does he know how to properly motivate young men who don't remember what life was like before smartphones and social media? And will he know how to properly delegate his assistant coaches to compensate for those potential gaps in knowledge?
There's a big difference between coaching kids during an annual high school all-star football game and committing to mold and develop young athletes for months and years at a time.
Look, if Edwards does come to Tempe, things could work out just fine. Athletic director Ray Anderson, who was Edwards' agent during their NFL days, desperately wants to see this program succeed, and he hasn't made this decision lightly. And the Sun Devils have the history, location and facilities to become that perennial top-15 team that Anderson envisions them becoming.
These are all things we know. But Herm Edwards as a head college football coach is a monumental unknown. He presents more questions than answers, including the most basic question of all: whether he can coach at this level. And that should be more than enough to unnerve any ASU football fan.