PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils checks a video replay during the game with the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on November 5, 2011 in Pasadena, California. UCLA won 29-28. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Dennis Erickson will be hitting his retirement age sometime next year. It's starting to look like he's thinking of spending his Saturdays hitting the greens rather than coaching on them. The Arizona St. Sun Devils head coach has made some very strange decisions this season, and his team looks like it could perform below expectations for the fourth straight year.
ASU looked sluggish and uncertain in a winnable game in Oregon, and against the sparky little UCLA Bruins they totally blew things again.
Alex Garoutte 0 for 3 on field goals, including two potential game-clinchers in the fourth quarter.
- ASU gave up a 3rd and 29, on the game-winning drive, in the fourth quarter, to Kevin Prince and Dante Rosario. This after giving up a Prince-Rosario 76 yard connection. Shouldn't your defensive coordinator be fired immediately when those clauses are strung together?
Nothing was worse though than the final two minutes of the UCLA-ASU game, where Erickson probably fouled up the best chance the Sun Devils had at a last-minute rally (HT to Jeff Nusser at Coug Center for describing the situation succinctly).
Given that your field goal kicker has missed two long field goals, and you'll need all the time you'll possibly need in the final two minutes, this sequence of events after the Prince-Rosario connection makes very little sense.
The Sun Devils could’ve called time, but the clock kept running. After UCLA ran a play, Erickson said he had trouble getting an official’s attention, causing more time to pass. The Sun Devils eventually called one timeout with 1:04 left and another with 53 seconds remaining.
"We wasted about 25 seconds. I wasted 25 seconds," Erickson said. "It’s all on me, nobody else. . . .
"I had trouble getting to the official, and that’s not anybody’s fault but mine, so as I looked at it and went through the tape (Sunday), I looked at it a number of times, I cost us 25 seconds, basically, by not doing what I’m supposed to do. I talk to my players about being accountable on every play, and in that particular case I wasn’t accountable, and that’s my fault."
Not a good sign that your leader is openly admitting to mistakes in big-time games, is it? If you can't trust your head coach to do the right things, how confident will you be in your own team's ability to succeed on gameday?
It just seems to point to the same issues that have plagued ASU football for years. Penalties, bad decisions, poor execution at inopportune times--it speaks to a team that just doesn't play well enough when they need to play at their best, and makes the crucial errors when they absolutely can't afford them. That's never a good sign.
Erickson is one of the all-time greats in the college football profession and has had great success in other spots, but it's starting to look as if his time has passed. After a successful 2007 campaign, Erickson has treaded water and managed zero bowl appearances and only one .500 season as a mark of success. This isn't really a model of consistency that he's building up here in ASU.
Even though the Sun Devils should go bowling this season, ASU might need to seriously reconsider rebooting things if they don't want their program to be perceived as a program that doesn't put up its A-game and is falling behind the times. Because it sure looks like their coach is doing just that.