Erickson’s tenure at ASU could be nearing end

Dennis Erickson led Arizona State to bowl eligibility for the

first time in four years with an impressive start to the

season.

A monumental collapse by the Sun Devils may keep him from being

there to enjoy it with his team.

Erickson plans to meet with Athletic Director Lisa Love sometime

in the next few days to discuss his future with the program, and

most indications point to his five-year tenure in the desert coming

to an end.

”Everybody wants an answer to this and I don’t have one, I

really don’t,” Erickson said following Arizona State’s 47-39 loss

to California on Friday night. ”I’m not trying to be smart or

anything, but I don’t have an answer. I know that we will probably

meet early this week and talk about where the program is at and the

direction it needs to go, and if I’m involved in it –

hopefully.”

Erickson won a national title with Miami in 1989 and had stops

at Oregon State and Idaho before arriving in Tempe in 2007. He had

an impressive start in the desert, leading the Sun Devils to a bowl

game and their first 10-win season in nine years.

After that, the program started to slide backward.

Arizona State won five games in 2008 and four in 2009. The Sun

Devils won six games last season, but weren’t bowl eligible because

two of their games were against Football Championship Subdivision

schools and the NCAA didn’t approve a waiver to get them into the

postseason.

Love decided to stick with Erickson and Arizona State went into

this season with a new look and plenty of expectations, returning

nearly every starter on both sides of the ball.

The Sun Devils, playing with new uniforms and a new intimidating

logo, lived up to their billing early in the season, winning six of

their first eight games. Arizona State became bowl eligible with a

win over Colorado on Oct. 29 and was in control of the Pac-12 South

and had a spot in the inaugural conference title game, possibly the

Rose Bowl, in its sights.

Then everything fell apart.

The Sun Devils lost their grip on the South with a loss to UCLA

on Nov. 5 and blew another chance the next week, losing to

Washington State after the Bruins lost at Utah. Arizona State

followed that with a disheartening home loss to rival Arizona, a

team that had won two games previously and fired its coach.

Even after the loss to the Wildcats, the Sun Devils still had a

shot at winning the division, thanks to UCLA’s inability to close

it out.

That fell short, too.

Arizona State’s division title hopes ended when Colorado beat

Utah on Friday night and the Sun Devils followed with the loss to

Cal, their fourth straight to close out the regular season.

Even with Arizona State headed to a bowl, the limp to the finish

could end up costing Erickson, 31-30 in his five seasons in

Tempe.

”We love Coach E,” Arizona State defensive tackle Bo Moos

said. ”Obviously, the blame is ultimately going to be put on him,

but we don’t feel like it should be. If that ends up being the

case, then I’m just glad that this is my last year because I

wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.”

The Sun Devils played well on both sides of the ball early in

the season, with quarterback Brock Osweiler putting up big numbers

and the hard-hitting defense stifling nearly every team it

faced.

Defense let Arizona State down over the final stretch, played by

poor tackling and missed assignments. The Sun Devils allowed an

average of 37 points and nearly 500 yards per game during their

four-game slide.

”In all the years that I’ve been in this business, I don’t

think I’ve ever had a slide like this, where all of a sudden we

just went (downhill) just like that, particularly on defense,”

Erickson said. ”I wish I could I put my finger on it.”