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Community Connection: Susan Casper goes one-on-one with ASU Head Football Coach Herm Edwards

Posted at 7:34 AM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 13:05:38-04

Former NFL head coach and ESPN Analyst Herm Edwards was named the 24th head coach of Sun Devil Football, as announced by Arizona State University and Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson on December 3, 2017.

Edwards arrived in Tempe with a football legacy that has impacted thousands, whether as a player, coach, analyst, motivational speaker and author, or community advocate and philanthropist.

Herm Edwards and his coaching staff exceeded expectations during his first year in charge of the program, achieving several unexpected accomplishments and garnering national attention. The Sun Devil Football program earned several significant victories under Edwards' watch. A pair of Top-25 teams were knocked off in Sun Devil Stadium, with ASU defeating No. 15 Michigan State and No. 16 Utah. Despite being picked last by the media in the Pac-12 South in the preseason, Arizona State had a chance to win the Pac-12 South ont he road against Oregon, finishing second in the division with a 5-4 conference record. Herm Edwards led the Sun Devils to a dramatic comeback victory in his first-ever Territorial Cup game against rival Arizona. Arizona State came back from a 19-point fourth quarter deficit to earn the Territorial Cup point with a 41-40 win in Tucson. The comeback represented the largest in the history of the Territorial Cup series. Edwards took the Sun Devils to a bowl game in just his first season, taking on No. 21 Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Arizona State defeated USC, UCLA, and Arizona, making Edwards the only first-year coach in program history to defeat all three teams and make a bowl game.

At ASU, Edwards has taken a proactive approach to developing coordinators and assistant coaches, drawing on his nearly three decades of NFL experience in a variety of capacities and wide range of leadership positions within both the sport of football and in other endeavors. That experience has also been utilized in an effort to develop players to prepare for the next stage of their careers after college.

Edwards was tabbed by Anderson as someone who is a "central leader with a collaborative staff around him that will elevate the performance of players and coaches on the field, in the classroom and in our community. Equally important, (Edwards) will be a dynamic and tireless recruiter."

Edwards spent eight years as an NFL head coach with the New York Jets (2001-05) and Kansas City Chiefs (2006-08). He led his teams to four playoff appearances, including 2004 when his Jets squad finished with a 10-6 regular season record and advanced to the AFC Divisional Playoffs. Edwards, who also guided the Chiefs to a Wild Card berth in 2006, is one of only four NFL coaches to lead two different teams to the playoffs in his first season as head coach with those teams.

Among the numerous players that Edwards coached in his career include Pro Football Hall of Famers Curtis Martin, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks and numerous All-Pro players such as Larry Johnson, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, Jared Allen, Kevin Mawae, Santana Moss, Tony Gonzalez, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson in addition to players like Donnie Abraham, Chad Pennington and Brandon Carr.

Edwards most recently served as a coach for the past six years at the Under Armour All-American game, which features the top high school football recruits in the country, and as an NFL analyst for ESPN since 2009 where he appeared primarily on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and the network's coverage of Super Bowl week. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a cornerback between the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams, followed by another 18 years as a scout, position coach, assistant and head coach between the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets. He made the playoffs four times as an NFL head coach.

Edwards played cornerback for the University of California in 1972 and 1974 before he ended his collegiate career at San Diego State in 1975. An undrafted free agent who went on to have a 10-year NFL career, he never missed a game in his nine seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1977 to 1985 and started all 16 games in seven of his nine seasons with the team. Over the course of his nine years in Philadelphia, Edwards totaled 38 interceptions -- with seven during his sophomore NFL season - which is just one short of the franchise record. He earned second-team All-NFC honors in 1980 to help lead the Eagles to Super Bowl XV.

It is said the victory formation, which was implemented by the Eagles, came in part to a play made by Edwards late in the 1978 season. Trailing 17-12 to the New York Giants with seconds remaining, Giants' quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled the handoff and Edwards picked it up for the scoop and score and the 19-17 victory. The play became known in Philadelphia as "The Miracle at the Meadowlands".

Edwards had 33 career interceptions, plus five more picks in playoff games.

Edwards retired from the NFL following the 1986 season, and as the first graduate of the league's Minority Coaching Fellowship, he immediately went into coaching as a defensive assistant at San Jose State University from 1987 to 1989.

In 1990, Edwards transitioned back into the NFL as a scout and defensive backs coach with the Chiefs from 1990 to 1995 under legendary head coach Marty Schottenheimer. He then served under Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2000 before being hired as the head coach for the New York Jets in January 2001.

Over the course of five seasons Edwards led the Jets to three playoff berths, five postseason contests and a pair of 10-win seasons. His 35 victories with the team from 2001-04 is tied with Joe Walton (1983-86) for the most regular season wins by a coach in his first four years with the team.

He started his second tour with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006 and became the first coach in franchise history to lead the team to the playoffs in his initial season.

Edwards joined ESPN in March 2009 as an NFL studio analyst. He appeared primarily on NFL Live and SportsCenter, while also contributing to ESPN Radio and the company's annual Super Bowl coverage. He also worked local broadcasts of Eagles preseason games in 2009.

Before officially joining ESPN, Edwards worked a brief stint in Bristol during the 2008 NFL offseason as a guest analyst.

A native of Seaside, Calif., Edwards graduated from Monterey High School, attended the University of California, Berkeley for two years, with a stint at Monterey Peninsula College, before graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in Criminal Justice. Herm was inducted into the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

He was appointed a charter member of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, named a member of the Positive Coaching Alliance's National Advisory Committee in 2003 and sits on the Santa Catalina School Board of Trustees. Edwards also remains active in numerous charitable and philanthropic endeavors, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) along with his wife, Lia, who lives with Type I diabetes. He also created the Herman L. Edwards Family Youth Foundation in 1985 with the goal of making a direct impact on the lives of children on the Monterey Peninsula.

Edwards has been recognized by multiple organizations for his work in the community. He received the 2012 Walter Camp Foundation Man of the Year Award for his longtime contributions to the game of football; he was honored with Team ESPN's Commentator of the Year Award in 2013; and in 2015 he received the prestigious Shell Legacy Award from the Shell Oil Company. Edwards was the recipient of the inaugural Voices Leadership Award in 2017. Voices is an organization that provides a wide range of support services for 9/11 families, responders and survivors.

Known for his dynamic motivational speaking, Edwards regularly addresses football players of all ages, as well as corporate groups. He spoke to incoming players at the NFL Players Association's Rookie Premier in 2011, and coached teams at both the Under Armour All-America High School Football game (Head Coach 2011-16) and has also coached the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl college all-star game.

Edwards was 5-1 in the Under Armour All-America game, where he worked with such players as Jameis Winston, Amari Cooper, Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook.

Edwards co-authored the book You Play to Win the Game - Leadership Lessons for Success On and Off the Field with ESPN's Shelley Smith, and he was involved in longtime NFL referee Jim Tunney's book, It's the Will, Not the Skill - Principles and Philosophies of Success as Seen Through the Eyes, Mind and Heart of Herm Edwards.

A passionate golfer, Edwards appeared in Golf Channel's original series "The Haney Project" with professional instructor Hank Haney in December 2011. Edwards has also played a number of high-profile celebrity tournaments in the past, including the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, the latter of which he takes part in every year.

Edwards and his wife Lia are the proud parents of three children: Marcus, Gabrielle and Vivian.