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Huskies prepare for ‘dean’ Erickson

Wed., Oct. 6, 2010

Sun Devils leader most veteran coach in Pac-10

It took 63 years, but Dennis Erickson finally added another role to his already-full plate. Over the summer, Erickson became a first-time grandfather.

It’s a new position for the Everett native and Arizona State Sun Devils football coach, but also a somewhat familiar one considering his place among Pac-10 coaches.

In a conference that features two thirty-somethings, and only two coaches older than 50, the 63-year-old Erickson is used to spanning generation gaps.

And for anyone who thinks the oldest coach in the conference might have lost some of his passion for the game over time, Erickson has a few words in his own defense.

“I’ve got a lot of fire in this little rear end of mine,” said Erickson, who has almost six years on the Pac-10’s next oldest coach and 14 years on any of the other eight. “I’m just going to keep going after it until it wanes.”

Now in his 18th year as a college football coach, and his fourth at ASU, Erickson has certainly had more successful runs. His college career has featured a .660 winning percentage, yet he’s sported a 21-21 record at Arizona State that includes a 2-3 mark this season. When Erickson returns to his native state Saturday to face the Washington Huskies, he’s not exactly flying in to a hero’s welcome. He’ll bring an eight-game conference losing streak into Husky Stadium.

Erickson’s past three teams at ASU have a combined 11-18 mark. Last season’s 4-8 record gave him back-to-back losing seasons for the first time at the college level, and he’s in danger of going three consecutive seasons without a bowl invitation for the first time since he was coaching Division I-AA Idaho in the early 1980s.

“We’ve been making some progress (at ASU), but it’s also time to get this thing going in the right direction,” said Erickson, who was a two-time national champion while coaching at the University of Miami in the early 1990s. “I think we’re headed there. We’ve got to win games, that’s what it’s about.”

Through it all, Erickson has maintained his reputation within the Pac-10.

Now at his third program – he went to four bowl games in six total seasons with Washington State and Oregon State – Erickson is still regarded as one of the conference’s elite coaches.

“I love him,” UW’s Steve Sarkisian said this week. “He’s been there, done that. He’s a great guy to bounce ideas off of. I think his team embodies his personality. They are tough; they really are. They play hard.”

When asked what role Erickson has among Pac-10 football coaches, UCLA’s 49-year-old head coach Rick Neuheisel laughed and said: “How does Dennis want to be regarded? The dean. I mean, Dennis can be regarded how he wants to be. He deserves that. He’s got a great resume.”

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