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The contrasting directions of Arizona and ASU football

Mike Luke Avatar
June 26, 2022

The 2022 college football season figures to be a crossroads of sorts. With the Supreme Court Name Image and Likeness (NIL) ruling allowing player compensation, combined with a player transfer portal with few limitations, and a sports world still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, 2022 is uncharted waters.

Due to a few similar reasons, 2022 looks like a crossroads campaign for Arizona and Arizona State football.

So far so good for Arizona as coach Jedd Fisch has won the offseason again.

Arizona in particular has benefited in a major way from the transfer portal to the tune of the former Pac-12 freshman of the year, former-Washington State quarterback Jayden De Laura, and UTEP wide receiver, Jacob Cowing, who amassed 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Where Arizona football has experienced one win in the last 20 contests, Arizona State has posted an 18-12 record the past three seasons.

Much of that record was built off the sound approach of adding 4-star Los Angeles-area recruits.

There was significant buzz that ASU’s 2022 recruiting class could be among its best, and build upon Edwards’ top-25, 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes.

But those recruiting classes feel like a long time ago due to the mid-March 2021 recruiting reports that Edwards and his staff actively recruited during an NCAA-mandated Covid restriction period.

By the end of the 2021 season, where ASU went 8-5, Edwards had lost nearly his entire coaching staff. And the roster upheaval was even worse.

The Sun Devils hemorrhaged nearly 30 transfers. Many of those former Sun Devils were promising, as the destinations of some of the schools — Ohio State, LSU, USC, Florida State, Florida, Oklahoma, TCU and Louisville — would indicate.

It figures that at some point ASU will look to move on from Edwards, but at what point? A known coaching candidate signing up to a school coming off a bad season or a bad era, is one thing. Arizona fans witness this every five to seven years. But most prospective football coaches don’t have to deal with the prospect of significant NCAA sanctions and an uncertain timeline as to when the penalties will be issued.

The decision has clearly been made to ride out this coming season with Edwards but it’s hard to view this as any more than a stopgap until some sort of outside element enforces a punishment.

And can an ASU fan base be at all enthused by the possibility of another Ray Anderson-inspired hire, given the Sun Devil athletics director’s recent foibles?

Going into the 2022 season, the Arizona football coach sees a much different trajectory. The same coach coming off a 1-11 first season at Arizona has added a top-25 recruiting class, including the former Pac-12 freshman of the year at the most important position on the field.

“It’s a different time in Tucson right now,” said 247 sports West Coast recruiting analyst, Gregg Biggins.

“You can see by the amount of California kids Jedd signed who could have gone to a lot of national powers. Jedd needs to continue to build on it but he’s going to be able to bring a lot of talent to Arizona. He’ll just need to be able to coach it up.”

Biggins doesn’t doubt Fisch will be able to “coach his talent up,” either.

“I was like a lot of other people when Fisch was hired,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. After talking with him though, I came away thinking this can work. His energy, work ethic and enthusiasm is next level.

“I would be excited if I was an Arizona fan.“

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