Dennis Erickson, the veteran head football coach at Arizona State University, collects $1,275,000 in salary each year, plus whatever else he pulls in from endorsements and what have you.
For this remarkable sum, Sun Devils' fans have gotten a consistent product in this, the fifth season of the Erickson Era -- consistently mediocre, that is.
Other than Erickson's semi-glorious first season (2007), in which ASU was beaten soundly by Texas in the Holiday Bowl after a 10-win season, the Devils have underachieved time and again, going 21-26 in the past four years without a bowl appearance in the mix.
Erickson's teams have earned a reputation as being undisciplined to the extreme, both in terms of temperament and execution on the field.
Case in point was Saturday night's stunning 31-27 home loss to the hated Arizona Wildcats (and one of the worst UA teams ever, at that). Missed tackles aplenty, personal fouls, an altogether pathetic performance in what was a hugely important game on every level for ASU even aside from the traditional rival aspect.
Not so many weeks ago, ASU was firmly in the nation's Top 25 and seemingly was headed toward the first inaugural Pac-10 championship game as the South champ. But three losses in a row to iffy-at-best teams -- UCLA, Washington State and Arizona -- has turned the discussion squarely to Erickson's future at the helm.
Remarkably, the coach and his team still have a window of opportunity in front of them, starting with this Friday night's game at home against the equally average (both are 6-5 this season) California Golden Bears. If ASU wins, and some other things happen on Saturday with UCLA and Utah, the Devils still get into the championship game, probably against Oregon, and then will play in a bowl game.
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If -- and that is a giant if -- ASU somehow runs the table and wins three games in a row, Erickson may save his job. But if the Devils lose to the Golden Bears in Tempe, it's surely lights out for the grizzled old coach, and it should be.
And from talking to our pals who follow this stuff closely, Erickson's termination as coach could not come sooner.
Check out this fairly prescient piece by our old colleague John Dougherty about Coach Erickson's background. Interesting read.