Lovie Smith is already doing what Herm Edwards has set out to accomplish at Arizona State — sort of.
The fellow former NFL head coach is leading an attempted turnaround of the University of Illinois’ football program. He’s 2 seasons into it, and has just 5 wins to show for it.
But even as his record struggles to rebound in the union’s early stages, Smith was quick to defend Edwards, whose hiring has already drawn skepticism. Edwards hasn’t coached in college since George H.W. Bush was in the White House. Can he recruit? Is he hip to today’s college game?
There are some who think the answer to each of those questions is a resounding “no.” Nonsense, Smith says.
“When I came back people said, ‘Well, you haven’t recruited in 40 years or whatever,’ ” Smith said, via azcentral sports’ Doug Haller. “Well, what is recruiting? I mean, you go into a home and you have a product that you’re selling, that you believe in. That’s what parents want to know. They want to trust someone with their sons to help them grow as a man, as a player. You don’t forget doing that. It’s just like riding a bike. You may not have ridden it in a while, but you don’t forget how to do it.”
Smith continued, explaining how use of the quarterback is different between the college and pro game, and how rosters are larger thanks to 85 scholarships, as opposed to the NFL’s 53-man limit.
Of course, Smith has history with Edwards, which also helps explain why he’d come to the defense of his former colleague. The two worked together under Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000.
“A great coach, great man, great leader, the ideal person to lead the program,” Smith said of Edwards. “Herm has an expertise. He played the game at a high level. He’s coached the game at a high level. He knows the game of football. But there’s more to being a head coach. And that’s where Herm will get high marks, too.”
If there’s one person who’d know what the coach is getting into and who the coach is who’s doing it, it’s Smith. We’ll wait to see if Edwards proves him correct.
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