ASU names Dennis Erickson head football coach
Dennis Erickson, a two-time national champion (1989 and 1991), a two-time winner of the Pac-10 Coach of the Year Award (1988 and 2000) and the Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2000, has been named the 22nd football coach at Arizona State University, Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love announced Monday. Erickson's 148 wins ranks him 12th among active coaches.
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“Dennis Erickson has proven both on the national level and in the Pac-10 that he can compete and win against the best,” said Love. “When you start looking at his accomplishments, what stands out is his big-game experience. He has been to the top of the college football world with two national titles at a proven national power in south Florida, and then took a program that had not had a winning season in three decades on the other side of the country to a Bowl Championship Series win. He coached in one of the nation's best rivalry games when it was at its highest level. He has had great success against the nation's top-ranked teams and also handled the pressure of being No. 1. We are excited to work with Dennis Erickson.”
Coach Erickson, who is 148-65-1 (.694) in his 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach, is known in the Pac-10 as the architect of one of college football's biggest turnarounds when he coached at Oregon State from 1999-2002.
He led the Beavers, who had not had a winning season since 1970, to a 7-5 record in his first season and then grabbed the attention of the college football world with an 11-1 mark in 2000, which was punctuated by a 41-9 defeat of No. 10 Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2001, its first bowl win since the 1962 Liberty Bowl. Oregon State ended the season ranked fourth in the final AP poll and led the Pac-10 in scoring offense (32.6 points per game), scoring defense (18.5 point per game) and total defense (314.4 yards per game). Coach Erickson earned Sporting News National Coach of the Year while the Pac-10 coaches gave him conference honors. In addition to the Fiesta Bowl win over the 10th-ranked Irish, he led the Beavers to wins over eighth-ranked USC (first win over Trojans since 1967), at No. 23 UCLA (OSU's first road win over a ranked team since 1970) and vs. No. 5 Oregon in 2000 as well as a win over eighth-ranked Washington in 2001 (first win over Huskies since 1985).
Beating the best
Since entering the head-coaching scene in 1982 at Idaho, he has shown the ability to beat the best, as Lou Holtz and Erickson are the only coaches in the past 20 seasons to win three games against the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press poll. He led unranked Washington State to a 34-30 win at top-ranked UCLA on Oct. 29, 1988, and then beat top-ranked Notre Dame 27-10 in his first year at Miami on Nov. 25, 1989, which stopped a 23-game win streak for the Fighting Irish. His Hurricanes then beat rival Florida State 17-16 on Nov. 16, 1991, in Tallahassee to end the Seminoles' 16-game win streak. Only three teams have won a road game at a top-ranked team since.
He has been in the national picture since moving from Pullman, Wash., to Florida in 1989 and taking over the Miami head coaching job after Jimmy Johnson left to coach the Dallas Cowboys. As the 18th head coach of Miami, the 41-year old Erickson became just the second Division I head coach to win a national title in his first season at a school, leading the Hurricanes to an 11-1 record and the school's third national title in seven seasons which was capped by a 33-25 win over seventh-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That team, led by Cortez Kennedy, boasted the nation's top defense as it led the nation in fewest yards allowed per game (216.5) and points per game (9.3). The Hurricanes didn't allow a touchdown during a 10-quarter stretch in the regular season and held six opponents without a touchdown. It was the springboard that would lead to a 63-9 record (.875) while in South Florida , the best record by a Hurricane coach.
Two-time national champion
His 1990 squad went 10-2 and included a 46-3 win over third-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Miami finished third in the national polls behind a school-record 482.9 yards per game of total offense, with another school record set in passing yards per game (324.8). The defense allowed just 79.7 yards per game on the ground. That team also received mention as the national champion by the New York Times and the Jeff Sagarin Computer Ratings.
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A large media contingent was on hand for the official announcement of Erickson as ASU's new coach.
The second national title for Coach Erickson came in 1991 as Miami went 12-0 as it won the Associated Press vote and Washington was the Coaches' Poll winner. The Hurricanes shut out Nebraska 22-0 in the Orange Bowl to finish the season and allowed just 100 points all year, as no opponent scored more than 20 and only five opponents reached double-digit points.
Despite the national titles and the Oregon State turnaround, Erickson's finest coaching job might have been in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida, as several of Miami's coaches (including Erickson), staff and students were moved out of their homes to Vero Beach (200 miles away) to complete preseason drills. Top-ranked Miami , despite the adversity, won its first game, a 24-7 contest at Iowa , and went 11-0 during the year, defeating three Top-10 teams, including two on the road. It fell to second-ranked and undefeated Alabama 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl. Erickson earned Big East Coach of the Year while quarterback Gino Torretta earned the Heisman Trophy, just the second Hurricane to take home the honor, joining Vinny Testaverde in 1986.
The early years
His first trip through the Pac-10 was in 1987 when he took over the Washington State job. The Cougars had been 7-14-1 the previous two seasons and Erickson's first squad went 3-7-1. One year later, the 1988 Cougars finished 9-3, won at top-ranked UCLA, won their first bowl game since 1931 (defeating No. 14 Houston 24-22 in the Aloha Bowl) and were 16th in the final Associated Press poll, its first Top-25 finish since 1972 (tied for 17th) and highest since 1951 (tied for 14th). The six-win improvement was tied for the best in the nation. All those numbers and goals were enough to make the University of Miami come calling.
He got his start in coaching in the early 1980s at the University of Idaho, also where he coached in 2006. After being named head coach on Dec. 11, 1981, he took over a struggling program and one season later the Vandals were winning. He won more than 70 percent of his games in his four years and reached the Division I-AA playoffs twice.
In his first season, he led the Vandals to the Division I-AA playoffs where they beat Montana 21-7 but lost to Eastern Kentucky 38-30. He made a return trip in 1985 but lost to Eastern Washington 42-38. He moved onto to Wyoming and went 6-6 in 1986 as the Cowboys won games at Air Force and at Wisconsin before Washington State offered him its head coaching job.
He was as an assistant at San Jose State (1979-81), the offensive coordinator at Fresno State (1976-1978) and at Idaho (1974-1975), the offensive backfield coach at Montana State (1971-1973), Billings High School's head coach (1970) and a Montana State graduate assistant (1969) before earning the Idaho job prior to the 1982 season.
Twice Erickson tried the NFL after excellent college performances. He took over the Seattle Seahawks in 1995 and went 31-33 in four seasons, competing against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos twice a year.
In 2003 and 2004 he coached the San Francisco 49ers and went 9-23 in two seasons.
He graduated from Everett High School near Seattle (1965) and earned a bachelor's degree (1970) from Montana State where he was a two-time All-Big Sky quarterback. His family includes his wife, Marilyn, and sons Bryce and Ryan.