As former Arizona State head football coach Dennis Erickson knows, things can happen in a hurry. His Sun Devils went from 6-2 and the prohibitive favorites to win the Pac-12 South and be competitive in perhaps making it to the Rose Bowl. Then the team lost five straight games and he was fired after the season, just weeks after talks had begun to give him a contract extension.
In an interview with the Portland Tribune, he opened up a bit about his career and how he wished he had more time at Arizona State. He believes that they were on the edge of something very special.
As he has said numerous times before, he feels that level of talent on the team is greatly improved from when he arrived. But as an older coach (65 years old), he laments a bit how things have changed in coaching and college football.
"Programs that are patient through the years are the ones that are solid," he says. "Virginia Tech wasn't very good for four or five years under Frank Beamer. Same thing with Greg Schiano at Rutgers. That's why Oregon State will always be successful. They've stayed with Mike Riley though he's had a down year or two, they're building consistency within that program, and I think they're going to have an awfully good team next year.
"You have to have people in the administration with patience, but that's part of the game. Bottom line at ASU, though, is we didn't win enough games for the people making that decision."
College football has changed. The money is so much greater. Coaches get paid millions. Schools want a return on that investment.
But Erickson is right. If you believe in the staff you have, you need to ride it out to achieve sustained success.
He knows that his age will keep the jobs from flying in. But he would like to coach again. "I'd like to. Maybe there will be an opportunity out there. But I won't coach next year," he explained.
Erickson was far from perfect. His teams were not disciplined enough. His coaching staff was questionable at times. But from where I stand after having watched the team develop and perform, he is right in that the talent is there.
But like so many other situations in sports, you don't get to see the fruit of your labor. Erickson was unable to give that talent the bump up. That is what got him fired in the end.
Luckily, it looks at least initially that new head coach Todd Graham is the guy to take that talent to the next level.
We will see. Hopefully Erickson does get one more shot. It just won't be this year.