It’s been eerily quiet in the hallowed halls of the Arizona State football program.
And maybe a little on the gloomy side.
But that’s to be expected when the ominous clouds of an NCAA investigation are hanging over your program.
That eerie quiet may just be the lull before the storm. The school administration has been conducting internal interviews to try to get a handle on the scope of the problem they have inherited.
At issue is a file submitted last month to the athletics department from an anonymous source, providing alleged evidence that the football coaches, including head coach Herm Edwards, committed recruiting violations when they brought potential recruits to campus during the 15 months that had been declared a ‘dead period’ to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. That moratorium ended June 1.
If those allegations prove to be accurate, they could have major implications for the football program.
Edwards’ job is at stake here, as well as the jobs of others in the athletic department who may get caught up in the nightmare that is unfolding, particularly the assistant coaches who were said to have hosted the recruits.
That also includes the school’s athletic director, Ray Anderson, who hired Edwards, and associate AD Jean Boyd, who directly oversees the program. By virtue of their job descriptions, they must also bear responsibility for the head coach’s actions.
The reason it’s so quiet is that ASU must abide by an NCAA mandate that forbids schools under investigation from commenting on the ongoing proceedings.
Normally, Edwards and the other talking heads in the department would be out there promoting what is expected to be a promising season for the football team. They have talent and depth at the key positions, experienced defensive and offensive lines, a defensive secondary that is anchored by a handful of sixth-year players, and a returning starting quarterback who will be entering his third season with the program. The Devils return 10 starters from an offense that averaged 264 yards per game on the ground.
With so many key players returning this season (20 starters), the need for new blood is not as critical as other times, and that depth should carry over to the 2022 season. That’s a godsend since it’s hard to know how the investigation is going to affect recruiting.
There are players still signing on to play for Edwards, but not the blue-chip talent that will most likely avoid a potentially messy situation that could include the dismissal of the coach(s) who recruited them.
Just days ago, ASU added defensive tackle Syncere Massey, who is a three-star recruit ranked 160th in the state of Texas. Four-star running back Tevin White committed a couple of weeks ago, to bring the total to six in the 2022 class.
However, keeping a low profile right now means fewer opportunities for media questions about an investigation that is creating a public relations nightmare for a program that had been picked by many analysts as a favorite to win the Pac-12 South this season.
Unfortunately, there’s no telling how long Edwards and the boys will be living under the cloud of suspicion. The NCAA works in mysterious ways.
And not generally at a pace that suits those involved.