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Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Erickson takes over at ASU

Rebuilding Tulane turns to Toledo

December 12, 2006

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— The allure of another Pac-10 job was too much for Dennis Erickson to pass up.

Arizona State introduced the well-traveled Erickson on Monday as its new football coach - and the man school officials hope will lead the Sun Devils out of mediocrity.

The hiring, announced at a news conference on the ASU campus, marks the third Pac-10 coaching job for Erickson. He previously had stints at Washington State and Oregon State.

"It's exciting for me to have an opportunity to come to Arizona State and compete for the BCS championship, to compete for the Pac-10," Erickson said. "I'm looking forward to elevating the program."

The 59-year-old coach has a 149-64-1 record in 18 seasons that also included stops in Idaho (twice), Wyoming and Miami. He also coached six years in the NFL, four with Seattle and two with San Francisco. He had signed a five-year contract with Idaho a year ago only to leave after one season.

Terms of his Arizona State contract were not revealed, pending ratification by the state Board of Regents.

Erickson was out of coaching in 2005 after being fired by the 49ers following a 2-14 season. He surprisingly resurfaced in Idaho, where his career as a college head coach began.

His Vandals went 4-8 this season, and his abrupt departure left Idaho athletic director Rob Spear "very disappointed." Spear said Saturday night Erickson had told him he was accepting the ASU job.

Erickson said the move to a higher-profile program was an opportunity that he didn't want to pass up.

"Every move that I've made has been to meet a challenge in the business that I'm in, which is college football," Erickson said. "When I went to the University of Idaho, I wasn't planning on leaving. Sometimes in this business opportunities come at different times, and that just happened. To have an opportunity to come here, whether I was there a year or five years, was something that I wanted to do, so that's why I made that decision."

Erickson replaces Dirk Koetter, who was fired after six seasons.

The Sun Devils are aiming to move into the upper reaches of the Pac-10. Koetter's teams earned bowl appearances each of the last three seasons, but he had a 21-28 overall conference mark and was 0-10 against Pac-10 teams in California.

Koetter will coach Arizona State through its Dec. 24 appearance against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

Erickson's biggest success came at Miami, where the Hurricanes were 63-9 in six seasons and won national championships in 1989 and 1991. He left Miami for the NFL's Seahawks, where he was 31-33 from 1995 through 1998. Erickson was fired by the Seahawks and replaced by Mike Holmgren.

His best coaching performance might have been at Oregon State. Erickson took over the Beavers in 1999, when OSU had an NCAA Division I-record streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons. His first team went 7-5 and appeared in the Oahu Bowl. His second Oregon State team capped an 11-1 season with a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl rout of Notre Dame.

His career, while highly successful, has been clouded at times. Miami faced NCAA sanctions after his stint there, and in 1995, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. His players were known for their aggressive and sometimes undisciplined behavior.

Former UCLA coach Toledo takes job of rebuildling Tulane

New Orleans - New Mexico offensive coordinator Bob Toledo is taking over at Tulane, a school desperate to rejuvenate its fan base in a city that will be rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina for years.

"I was one of those people from far, far away watching when disaster struck," said Toledo, a former head coach at UCLA. "They've had to overcome a lot of adversity, and that's one of the things that attracted me here."

When Toledo walked into an atrium in the university's athletic center for his introduction Monday, wearing an olive green suit similar to Tulane's traditional school colors, boosters gave him an extended ovation. With the 60-year-old Toledo, Tulane gets an established coach who has won at big schools and was looking to get one more shot as a head coach.

Toledo coached at UCLA from 1996-2002, compiling a 49-32 record that included a school-record 20-game winning streak and two Pac-10 championships. Despite his success, he was fired in 2002 by Dan Guerrero, then in his first year as UCLA's athletic director, who said he felt the program wasn't heading in the right direction after a 7-5 season.

"Everybody's excited to know that he's a big-time guy and he's coached a lot of good teams," Tulane running back Matt Forte said. "For him to come here, it kind of gives us that attitude to want to win and want to work hard."

Despite new on-campus practice facilities built after Katrina's floodwaters receded, Tulane faces a constant recruiting hurdle because of its relatively high academic standards.

B.C., Steelers aide talk

Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback coach Mark Whipple has interviewed for the head-coaching job at Boston College, Steelers coach Bill Cowher said Monday while endorsing his assistant for the job. Whipple was the coach at New Haven and Brown before taking over at the University of Massachusetts, where he had a 49-25 record from 1998-2003 and won the NCAA Division I-AA championship in '98.

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