Can Dennis Erickson Retain Arizona State Coaching Job with a Bowl Victory?

Jeff ChaseSenior Analyst IIDecember 13, 2011

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches warm ups before the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona State Sun Devils have yet to fulfill their coaching position for the 2012 season, and their game against the No. 7 Boise State Broncos in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas is only about a week away. Coach Dennis Erickson will be leading the Sun Devils in their fight against the Broncos, but could Erickson retain his job if he claims a victory?

Erickson had the Sun Devils on the right track to start the 2011 season. They started out the year 5-1, and had victories over ranked teams like the Missouri Tigers and USC Trojans. While the Tigers didn't show up as some had expected, the Trojans did end up playing well throughout the season.

Since the Sun Devils have yet to find a coach, their choices are starting to run relatively slim. The Sun Devils have stated that they are not interested in bringing in a coach without any head coaching experience, so that also eliminates many up-and-coming coordinators who could fulfill this job quite well.

There is no doubt that this Sun Devils' coaching search has been a mess, but that really isn't Erickson's fault.

If the Sun Devils fail to sign anyone to a contract by the time the game comes around, could they perhaps consider giving Erickson one last shot to claim his job back if he has a victory over the Broncos?

Perhaps Erickson doesn't want to return, as his final year at Arizona State ended ugly and he has seen much disgust from the fanbase and little support towards the end of the year.

Sure, the Sun Devils did finish the year terribly at 1-5, and anyone would agree that the fallout should result in a new coach. The only issue is, the Sun Devils may have really run out of time, and they possibly killed their chances after spurning June Jones when they rescinded the offer they gave him.

Erickson proved early on in the season that he could put together a team that could win the Pac-12. They were in the right direction, but failed to continue doing so over the easier part of their schedule. The composure was lost after the loss to the Oregon Ducks in Week 6, but there is no doubt that the talent was evident.

After what happened, Erickson doesn't deserve to be back next season. Dropping those final four games of the season to some of the worst teams in the Pac-12 is just inexcusable. Many would have a hard time seeing any reason for Erickson to be back to fulfill his final year as the Sun Devils head coach.

But—and this is a big but—if somehow the Sun Devils upset the Broncos, it would really capitalize on what Erickson had going early on in the year. The team obviously had setbacks, but they were lucky to draw an opportunity like this against a team like the Broncos.

The Broncos are clearly the favorites to win this game, as they went 11-1 on the season. They have been a strong team under coach Chris Petersen, and it will be quarterback Kellen Moore's last game as a Bronco. They will not be going easy on the Sun Devils to say the least.

The Sun Devils, if back in early season form, can compete with this Broncos team in Las Vegas. Erickson knows that this is his last chance to prove that he made something happen during his tenure at ASU, and there may be no bigger exclamation mark than defeating one of the best teams in the country.

At this point in time, arguably nobody is in Erickson's corner. A win won't guarantee anything either, as his failure this season was just another bad season in his five-year career with the Sun Devils. With a win over the Broncos, though, he could have a lot more fans considering his return.


Jeff Chase is a Featured Columnist for B/R, writing for the Chicago Cubs and Arizona State Football.