TEMPE — Herm Edwards sat alone at the podium early Monday afternoon, hunched over, arms tucked tightly in, and armed with nothing but a single sheet of paper in front of him. It was Edwards’ first regular season press conference in 10 years, since he last served as head coach of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Edwards presence was different than the man who has been dominating Arizona football headlines since his hire last December. This side of the Arizona State football coach wasn’t loud, energetic or bursting with overconfidence, though you’d be unwise to challenge the latter. This side of Edwards was collected in his tone and grounded in his answers, as if boxing in his larger-than-life personality the same way reporters squeezed into Sun Devil Stadium’s media room.
“It’ll feel like it always feels. I’m at home,” said Edwards, describing his emotions heading in Arizona State’s home-opener on Saturday. “I’m where I’m supposed to be.
“I don’t know any other environment but the studio, but other than that I’ve always been on the football field. You don’t lose sight of that.”
Edwards glanced at the paper in front of him only once throughout a nearly 20-minute press conference. His words seemed to spill out with ease, no talking points necessary
ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson supplied media outlets — who questioned and criticized the hire of his long-time friend at every turn — with plenty of their own talking points for months, and Edwards provided the flash in an entertaining off-season, but perhaps both men are ready to turn to the next chapter of their new book.
Edwards is aware of the public perception of his hire, as he admitted in a recent SportsCenter featured piece. Monday’s press conference symbolically marked the start of college football’s regular season for the Sun Devils. The time to wear the shoes few believe he can fill in is now. And as Saturday’s matchup in Tempe against the University of Texas at San Antonio inches closer, so does the Edwards era.
And yet, Edwards is the first one in the room to preach fun on the football field. “Just go have fun. If you don’t have any joy playing this game, shame on us all.”
“I’ve always been on the football field, whether playing or coaching,” Edwards said. “It’s going to be natural. It’s going to be where I should be, and I’m fortunate to be the head coach here, and honored to lead these guys.”
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