May 29, 2024

Herm Edwards amazed by the parity in the Pac-12

Arizona State Sun Devils Football

Arizona State Coach Herm Edwards addresses reporters at Pac-12 Media Day Tuesday July 27, 2021. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

HOLLYWOOD — He’s approaching his fourth season in the conference and believes he’ll be feilding his best team yet.

There are only a few current FBS coaches with a football background as prestige as Herm Edwards. The 67-year old continues to show he hasn’t lost a step with Arizona State, despite his time away from the sidelines as a commentator.

The Sun Devils have won five of their last seven games overall, return a loaded team and have momentum for the 2021 season. Edwards believes his players have a tremendous focus in their eyes that he noticed back in the spring. Several teams around the Pac-12 are also equipped with talent and experience.

“A lot of veteran guys returned, and the Pac-12 in general had a lot of players who were draft eligible last year, but decided to stay,” Edwards said. “I think this conference will produce a lot of NFL quality players.”

That’s saying a lot from a coach with as much NFL longevity as Edwards, and about a conference that’s been left out of the Playoffs for four-straight years. There’s no denying the league is trying to build back its’ credibility. In hindsight, Oregon appears to have the Pac-12 on lock.

However, USC continues to knock at the door, Utah remains a threat, Washington is constantly improving and UCLA is a wild card. Nearly every program has the potential to put together a winning campaign this fall. Which is why Edwards is expecting a lot of upsets.

“That’s what is great about this conference, the more that I evolved in it, it’s very, very, competitive,” he said.

Arizona State is currently under investigation by the NCAA for recruiting violations. Still, Edwards refuses to let that cloud over the program distract his team’s goals this year. Instead the Sun Devils are using it as motivation. The players want to control what they can on the field.

The Pac-12 South is up for grabs again. The Sun Devils played lights out on offense over their last two games and scored a combined 122 points. The Trojans could possibly have the nation’s best passing attack. The Buffaloes are scrappy, the Bruins are loaded and the Utes stay disciplined.

The North appears to be on an equal playing field also. Although Oregon has ruled the division with an iron fist, California is still underrated, Oregon State is closing the gap, Stanford is getting back to being Stanford and Washington is on the rise again.

Edwards believes it’s all a perfect storm, and this will be the year the Pac-12 earns back some much needed credibility, that’s been missing for quite some time. Every Power Five conference has been through some highs and lows. For decades several College football fanatics considered the Big Ten slow. The SEC didn’t start to get its’ shine until Nick Saban arrived. The ACC appears to be Clemson and everyone else, and the Big 12 is on the verge of dismantling.

That means all eyes will be on the Pac-12 this fall, but the league must take advantage of the spotlight. Unfortunately, every team can’t win and some has to lose. In the past the conference went into the season with high hopes, but by the time December rolled around, all the teams beat up each other and none were left unscathed.

None of it has surprised Edwards though, because he knows everything comes down to coaching student athletes. Regardless of the talent gap, size and speed of the players, the game remains the same on Autumn Saturdays through the eyes of the New Jersey native. And Edwards has become a natural at adapting.

“One thing you do know, is that the longer you stay in it, some things never change,” he said. “Athletes change, numbers change depending on the the level, but it’s all fundamentals.”