As one Arizona program gets ready to leap to the future, the other ponders the moves it must make to stay competitive in their conference.
The Arizona St. Sun Devils seemed like prohibitive favorites to win the Pac-12 South, and it seemed like they were shoo-ins after beating USC and Utah early in the conference schedule. But they've bumbled and stumbled their way to the finish by losing to UCLA at the horn and then putting up two stinkbombs against Washington State (including giving up a career game to a third-string QB) on the road, and now their rivals Arizona at home. They can still very well make it there, but standing at 6-5 going into this contest, they don't control their own fate and they can't seem to control themselves.
And with that, it looks like goodnight for Dennis Erickson in Tempe.
Erickson has always had a penchant for being a player's coach. He allowed them freedom to explore and do what they wanted on the football field as far back as his time with the U. His teams proved to be some of the most undisciplined groups that ever set foot on a college football field, and Miami eventually had to roll it back to put the team back on solid ground. The program has been in decline ever since.
Unfortunately, so has Erickson. After a good stint at Oregon State and a solid first year at Arizona State, Erickson's teams have been average performers in the win-loss column. It's not like they haven't had good efforts--they've played Oregon and USC tough year after year, and they nearly took Stanford to the limit last season. But the problem is that their efforts were constantly undone by the same mental errors. Penalties were the main culprit; turnovers dind't help either. The Devils lost football games because of their issues, undoing all the good work they do on hthe football field.
It's become a mind-numbing experience for ASU fans, and it's probably ready for a reboot. So might Erickson if he plans to coach again, although it's starting to look like "Shut down" might be the more appropriate term here.