ASU coach Herm Edwards talks diversity

Arizona State University football head coach Herm Edwards took a moment to reflect on the lack of diversity with head coaches throughout football at the collegiate and professional levels during the Pac-12 Conference media webinar.

A 2019 study from ASU’s Global Sport Institute found that coaches of color have a lower chance of being hired than their white counterparts despite having more experience.

“When these numbers come out, I just think that we have to do better,” Edwards said. “Colleges need to do better. The NFL needs to do better. Not only to hire as coaches, but in positions of authority where people get to make the decisions.” 

According to the study, five of the 32 teams in the NFL had head coaches of color during the 2009-10 season. That number has increased steadily over the last decade, reaching eight head coaches of color during the 2018-19 season. However, 91 percent of coordinators in that decade were white and only 17 percent of the offensive and defensive coordinators in the 2018-19 season were coaches of color. Twelve of the 32 NFL teams have never hired a head coach of color in their history.

Despite the glaring numbers, Edwards said the color of the skin doesn’t matter and he always appreciates a success story.

“In the world of football, we’re all connected by coaching trees. It’s fun to watch guys who have been under a head coach have the opportunity to be a coordinator or a head coach somewhere else.”

Edwards feels that the Pac-12 Conference has done an outstanding job to address the absence of diversity in all their programs.

“This conference is about innovation and opportunity,” Edwards said. “All those things that [the conference] preaches about, they back it up with their actions. That’s something that I don’t lose sight of as a man who has been involved in athletics all his life. It’s refreshing to see in our conference.”

Five of the 12 Pac-12 football head coaches are coaches of color, representing 41 percent of the conference, the highest percentage in any of the Power Five conferences. The Big-10 is the next closest conference with three of the 14 head coaches being coaches of color, representing 21 percent.

With the recent Pac-12 announcement giving the green light to resume football, Edwards and the Sun Devils are now preparing for the 2020 coronavirus-shortened season, beginning on Nov. 7 at 9 a.m. when they will travel to Los Angeles to face the USC Trojans in the Coliseum. 

According to the Pac-12 preseason media poll, the Sun Devils were picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South. They earned 181 points and two first-place votes, right behind USC who had 220 points and 32 first-place votes.

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