‘So glad to be back’: Herm Edwards reflects on isolation after ASU cancels 3rd game

Even though he wore a mask at practices, Arizona State coach Herm Edwards still tested positive for COVID-19. He said the experience of quarantining made him realize how much he missed the team. (Photo courtesy Sun Devil Athletics)

PHOENIX – For the third straight week, Arizona State canceled its football game despite optimism for a return to the field.

That left coach Herm Edwards reflecting on how much he missed spending time with his players, something he couldn’t do while isolating with COVID-19.

“You have these reflection moments when you’re sitting there, laying there, whatever you’re doing. And you just think about all the things that are really important in your life,” Edwards said Wednesday. “And it was important for me to make sure that I was safe. I kept my family safe for the most part.

“But then getting back to the players. It was quite a day for me when I actually came back and saw the players. You don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s taken away from you in that sense. And so I’m glad I’m back.”

The Pac-12 announced the cancellation of ASU’s game against Utah Tuesday and attributed it to the now-common refrain of the Sun Devils having too few scholarship players to play.

The game had previously been postponed from Saturday to Sunday.

Edwards said his experience with the virus is something he doesn’t “wish upon anyone.”

He “did everything possible not to” contract COVID-19, Edwards said, but acknowledged that he expected to some degree to become infected eventually.

“I told my wife when we first started this deal, I said, ‘You know what, I’m probably gonna catch it,’” he said. “I was well aware of that. I knew exactly what I was walking into.”
The conference also announced Tuesday that Utah will play Washington on Saturday to offset the loss of its game with ASU.

The news comes as ASU women’s and men’s basketball start their seasons Wednesday against Stephen F. Austin and Rhode Island, respectively.

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The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,982 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths Wednesday. The number of new cases each day in the state has been rising steadily since October, reaching a recent peak on Nov. 18 with 4,477 new cases.

Ray Anderson, ASU’s vice president of athletics, said in a statement that the “timing of the previously reported positive results coupled with the return-to-play guidelines have stretched over parts of three weeks, which makes it unsafe for several of our players to compete this Sunday.”

But he did express optimism that ASU will be able to play its game next week against UCLA.

“Notwithstanding any new issues we are confident in our chances of playing football next week,” he said.

The cancellation marks another week that ASU has been rocked by the COVID-19 outbreak within the program. While the Sun Devils have acknowledged that Edwards tested positive, they have not released other testing data, including the number of positive tests for players or members of the coaching staff.

Arizona is a one of a handful of states to share the dubious distinction of multiple head football coaches testing positive for COVID-19. Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin tested positive in October and has since recovered.

Other states include Ohio (Kent State’s Sean Lewis and Toledo’s Jason Candle), Florida (Florida’s Dan Mullen, Florida State’s Mike Norvell and Miami’s Manny Diaz), Arkansas (Arkansas’ Sam Pittman, Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson) and Alabama (Alabama’s Nick Saban and Troy’s Chip Lindsey).

Saban tested positive Wednesday and will not coach Saturday’s Iron Bowl matchup with Auburn.

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Christian Babcock expects to graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a related area in sustainability. Babcock, who has interned with The Arizona Republic, is a digital reporter for Cronkite Sports this spring.