The Sun Devils lost a disappointing game Saturday night to an Illinois team that they had a good chance of beating.
They outgained the Illini by 122 yards, but could not muster enough offense to secure a victory.
The Sun Devils were done in largely by their 91 yards in penalties, a disturbing trend that has shown no sign of letting up during the Dennis Erickson era.
Of 120 FBS teams, they are seventh in penalty yards against this season, at 241.
The game against Illinois highlights Erickson’s coaching tenure of disappointing losses and failed expectations.
Through the first three games of 2011, Erickson has a cumulative 27-25 record since joining ASU in 2007.
That is the lowest winning percentage for any coach of ASU football who has coached a full season since Steve Coutchie in 1946.
Take away the 10-3 2007 season that featured players recruited during the previous coaching regime, and his win-loss percentage is a miserable .435.
Undisciplined and penalty-prone teams are a hallmark of Erickson programs.
ASU football does not, nor will they ever, have the talent to win while giving free yards to the opponent because they cannot play the game in accordance with the rules.
Penalties are part of the game, but consistently having an excessive amount of penalty yards assessed against your team is not.
It is not something good teams do, and it is not something that the Sun Devils can afford to do.
They do not get the same talent level as programs like Texas, USC and Ohio State, whose programs may be able to overcome thoughtless penalties that kill drives and eliminate huge chunks of yardage.
Can the Sun Devils Succeed with Erickson?
This year marks Erickson’s fifth season.
The players he recruited when he was first hired are now seniors. The success or failure of this team is his and his alone, and so far, the 2011 season has not been impressive.
The Sun Devils were lucky to escape with a win two weeks ago against Missouri in a game rife with mistakes and penalties. They could very easily be 1-2 heading into conference play.
It is time for the Dennis Erickson era at ASU to end.
ASU has not been to a bowl game in three years, and as long as Erickson is at the helm, the best that they can hope for is a third- or fourth-place bowl game.
ASU ushered in new uniforms for the 2011 season; next year, hopefully it will be a new coach.