Erickson, Sun Devils looking to win over skeptics
Originally Published: September 22, 2006By Ted Miller | Special to ESPN.com
If conversation lags at the next cocktail party, and you find yourself among a gaggle of college football fans, here's a way to get tongues wagging.Ask folks what they think of Dennis Erickson.
Everyone has an opinion on Arizona State's first-year coach, whose 3-0 Sun Devils face their first real test Saturday when Oregon State comes to Tempe.
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDennis Erickson is looking for a 4-0 start with a win against Oregon State at home on Saturday.
On the one hand, there are national championships and program resurrections. On the other is NFL failure.
What about the mess of NCAA violations he left behind at Miami in 1994? Or the strutting, lawless, undisciplined teams?
Sure, but the guy is one of the game's great offensive innovators, one of the first to use four and five receivers to spread out defenses. Teams might still be running the snore-inducing wishbone if not for him. By the way, guess how many major violations the NCAA has nailed him on? Zero.
Whatever. The guy is a mercenary, chasing the next big paycheck. Didn't you see how after a single season he abandoned Idaho, where he said he planned to retire, to take over the Sun Devils?
Baggage? Let's just say Erickson's doesn't fit in the overhead compartment. "To be honest, all I had heard about him was well, national championships and [an] NCAA violation at Miami," Sun Devils defensive tackle Michael Marquardt said. "But that's what you get when you get a new coach -- some of the good things and then definitely everything bad that's ever happened." Yet when Marquardt first met Erickson, he didn't see a rogue coach whose face belongs on a wanted poster. He, at least for a moment, saw a football saint. "When he walked through the door, I thought he was Dick Vermeil," he confessed of his initial, confused handshake. You think you know a person, and then you mistake him for Dick Vermeil. Maybe there's a postmodern lesson there. Not that Erickson is eager to pause for a moment of philosophical reflection, much less Vermeilian tears.
|From UCLA's personnel losses to Arizona State's quick start to Oregon's offensive firepower, the Pac-10 is covered here. Notebook|
I think the biggest difference between this year and last year is that we were 3-0 [in 2006], but we weren't playing very good on either side of the ball. This year I think we've played well on defense and on offense to a certain extent.