Former NFL head coaches Herm Edwards and Chip Kelly are both now coaching in the Pac-12, but they’re having very different results.
Edwards, now the head coach at Arizona State, led his team to an upset of No. 15 Michigan State on Saturday. Kelly, now the head coach at UCLA, saw his team fall to 0-2 with a blowout loss at Oklahoma.
The Sun Devils are now 2-0 under Edwards, and they’ve looked impressive doing it. They cruised to an easy win over the outmanned UTSA in the first week of the season, and then they put up an incredibly impressive effort Saturday night against a Michigan State team that was expected to be among the best programs in the country this season.
That win over Michigan State ended with some great clock management from Edwards. As Arizona State got the ball with five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the score tied 13-13, Edwards instructed his players to stay in bounds at the ends of runs as they marched down the field and took time off the clock. The game ended with Arizona State taking a knee to run the clock three straight times, then kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired. Edwards, who scored one of the most memorable touchdowns in NFL history at the Miracle at the Meadowlands, knows the importance of playing it safe when you have the ball late in a close game. His team executed perfectly.
For Kelly, Saturday’s loss was ugly, but an ugly loss to a national title contender like Oklahoma is excusable. Less excusable was that Kelly’s team lost at home to Cincinnati a week earlier. On paper, the home game against Cincinnati should have been the easiest game on UCLA’s schedule. If Kelly’s guys can’t win one, it’s hard to think they’ll win many games this season.
So although Kelly is a well-regarded college coach from his days at Oregon, and although many observers scoffed at Arizona State hiring Edwards, it’s Edwards who’s looking like he has a program on the right track, and Kelly who’s looking like his program is a mess.