The deed is done. The coach is gone, long live the coach. Dennis Erickson is out at Arizona State, there was too much outcry for his dismissal that the administration felt it had to make a move. There were problems with discipline and composure. There were many mistakes and blown leads. But should these all be placed on the shoulders of Erickson?
Erickson's teams lost games they should have won. They won a few they probably weren't expected to win. Clearly Erickson's Devils were ready and hyped for the big regular-season games at the start, as seen in wins this year over Missouri, USC, a tough loss last season at Wisconsin that ASU probably should've won and two first halves of solid play against Oregon in Tempe in 2010 and at Oregon this year, both losses.
Beating the Ducks is a tall order. Ask any coach in the Pac-12. They've all lost to the Ducks, except Utah which just entered the conference this year.
Erickson got ASU to six wins and a bowl game this season. A bowl game. ASU has not been to one since 2007, Erickson's first year. Yes, the Sun Devils were expected to win the Pac-12 South with USC not allowed in the picture and they fell miserably short, but the mark of success in oh, 90-some percent of college football games is bowl appearances. We're not talking national titles in Tempe.
What do ASU fans expect, another Frank Kush? Aren't these the same fans who told quarterback Brock Osweiler that the Devils can lose every game as long as he beats the Wildcats?
The lion's share of the blame for Erickson's lack of success rests on the players for a lack of execution and for a few (Vontaze Burfict), an inability to keep their emotions in check. Is Erickson a therapist? No. Should he be held responsible for how Burfict handled himself in games and how often he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct? Of course not.
Burfict's antics wreck team chemistry and programs, not anything Erickson did. If anything, Erickson should have dropped the hammer on Burfict and kicked him off the team a long time ago, but somehow the pressure to win was too great and Erickson mistakenly judged Burfict to be critical to the team's success. As it turned out, Burfict might not have been the best defensive player on the team.
Erickson yanked Burfict from last Friday night's game in the third quarter after two costly penalties, and deservedly so. That defense wasn't stopping Cal anyway and Erickson had to take a stand and show he was in control.
Show me a college football team that doesn't have some kind of disciplinary issue. Maybe Erickson's handling of it could have been different, but his players had his back. They just didn't make the plays they were supposed to make.
Tough break for Erickson. The handwriting was on the wall with the loss to Arizona in the Territorial Cup. Too bad. This team let their coaches and their fans down too many times.