Erickson gives Idaho a raw deal
DENNIS Erickson did a terrible thing. He really did. That was just awful. It was all but unconscionable. It was obscene, even. That's not too strong a word. Even for him, this is dizzying stuff.
One year. He left WAC member Idaho after one season to become the football coach at Arizona State.
Oh, nobody's surprised. Not really, not now that the initial news has sunken in. It's Erickson. This was coming. Everyone knew it. It's just that we all thought it would be after two years, when he had actually done something for the Idaho program. Two years, after he'd at least given this Vandals program at least one winning season to remember, something to savor on those cold Idaho winter nights. At least to have had his short stay have had some positive impact in some way. To have at least changed the direction. Just 12 more games, to allow Idaho the chance to have snatched the pebble from his hand, so to speak.
But no. He's out. He's gone.
This sets the Idaho program back years. This just kills you. His arrival at Idaho set off all kinds of season-ticket sales, sparked a new momentum for Vandals football. What happens to all that good feeling now? They're just numb now. There's no hope now. Just a punch to the gut.
This is -- how I wish I could have thought of this first, wish I could say I was the one who wrote this, but I have to admit I read it on the Internet -- this is the moment from "The Waterboy" when Rob Schneider says, "Oh no! We suck again!"
(The Internet. You have to love the Internet. There's at least one cyber jester out there who tied the Idaho-Erickson situation to that Nathan Lane line from "The Birdcage": "How do you think I feel? Betrayed, bewildered ... ")
Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love, left, introduced new football coach Dennis Erickson at ASU yesterday.
Yes, we knew Erickson would do this. But we didn't know Erickson would do THIS.
"Had we known that we were going to end up in this situation we would never have gone down that road," Idaho athletic director Rob Spear told the Associated Press (and pretty much anyone else who would listen).
Yes, it's tough to blame coaches for taking what they can when they could in turn be fired at any second after a bad year, on a whim. But he's not some hungry young coach on the make -- he's still got 49ers money coming in. This isn't his last best chance. No, the worst part is that he left just because he could.
"It was kind of weird with Erickson talking and telling us he thinks he can win a national championship at Arizona State. It makes us realize the doubt he had in us," Vandals running back Jayson Bird told the
(Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman Review.
It's probably more complicated than it looks. It would have to be. Even Erickson couldn't be this brazen. Could he?
But it probably had a lot to do with what we saw after the UH-Idaho game here, it hitting Erickson maybe for the first time that he really was at Idaho, what that meant. You could see it in his eyes. Despondent. Defeated. Mumbling something about maybe Idaho needing someone else to get the job done.
And I was thinking, "Hey, come on, he's Dennis Erickson!" By next season he'd have it all turned around.
And he's thinking, he's Dennis Erickson, he's too old for this, to be trying to win at a school still trying to claw its way out of Division I-AA.
Not when, hey, he's Dennis Erickson -- he could win a national championship at Arizona State.
And so he jumped. As always, he jumped. We knew it was coming.
Still, even for him, this is dizzying stuff.
If you're Arizona State, do you even think about the other end of it? How does it sit in your stomach that this is how you got your coach? How do you feel about what he just did to his last team?
Wrote Arizona Republic columnist Paola Boivin, "Hiring a coach with two national championships should feel better than this."
But Arizona State's administration seemingly simply didn't care, didn't give it a second thought. It wanted a bigger stage, a better bowl, that was the everything, the only thing.
Sounds like a perfect match.
As Erickson got onto a private jet Sunday, an Idaho grad who works at tiny Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport took off his own Vandals cap, reached into the plane and gave it to the coach.
The Spokesman Review reporter on the scene heard Erickson say thanks. The door closed.
You have to wonder what was going through his mind as he sat there holding that hat waiting for the plane to take off.