Pac Tracks: Herm Edwards may have the finishing touch

First-year Arizona State Coach Herm Edwards is known for a more famous post-game quote, “You play to win the game,” but what he said about the last two minutes of Saturday night's game against Michigan State should now become the Pac 12's mantra.


“Now just go finish it off!” Edwards said.

Commissioner Larry Scott needs to start a t-shirt company and do to that quote what the SEC has done to “It just means more.”

Herm Edwards? Things are so low the Pac 12 must now seek inspirational wisdom from Herm Edwards, the former NFL coach turned analyst who came to the ASU job knowing as much college football as Pee Wee Herman?

Yes, by god, unless you’d rather hear from Chip Kelly, Kevin Sumlin or Clay Helton, who enter Week 3 with one combined win over Nevada Las Vegas.

I was going to make five points after USC’s loss at Stanford but, like the Trojans, I could only come up with three.

Helton on his team: “I thought they competed like warriors.”

Actually, to most USC fans, competing like warriors usually involves scoring a touchdown.

Sumlin after Arizona’s 45-18 loss at Houston, “You know, it isn’t good.”

What kind of silk screen concept is that?

Kelly after his team held Oklahoma to fewer than 50 points in Norman:

“The cool part about being here (UCLA) is that you get to play at places like this.”

And here we thought, all these years, it was the fight song and the uniforms.

So, sorry, unless Mike Leach recently had something to say in Wyoming about Jackalopes (wait…he did?), the Pac 12’s most important quote came from its looniest source.

“Now just go finish it off!” Herm Edwards explained after Arizona State bagged the Pac 12’s biggest early win.

Edwards led a lower-guard resistance movement over the weekend that also included finished-it-off wins from Colorado and California.

Herm Edwards

Three schools that finished a combined 17-20 last year are now 6-0 after providing the kind of back-bone victories necessary to fortify a conference's sagging reputation.

Arizona State went down the field, on a fiery-inferno night in Tempe, and kicked the game-winning field goal against a team some thought could compete for this year’s national title.

Colorado improved to 2-0 with a dagger-performance that ruined Scott Frost’s debut at Nebraska. By dagger we mean a 40-yard sideline fade pass-catch, from Steven Montez to Laviska Shenault Jr., with 1:06 left, to pull out a 33-28 win.

“We got dudes that are gritty,” Montez said, “and dudes, when it gets a little bit tough, they don’t back down.”

California improved to 2-0 with a hard-fought, 21-18 win at Brigham Young, coming off a big win at Arizona.

“It should show the Cal fans that maybe they should come to some game this year,” linebacker Evan Weaver said.

Important wins by the Pac 12’s undercarriage helped salvage a potential early-season disaster and emphasized what’s been wrong with the league all these years.

It hasn’t been able to finish.

Not even USC, the only Pac school to win a national title this century, has been immune to the disease.

Since winning the BCS title in 2004, the Trojans have blown several other chances. In 2005, they couldn’t hold a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead against Texas in the Rose Bowl. In 2006, a 13-9 loss to mediocre UCLA allowed Florida the chance to beat Ohio State for the BCS title. And what about blown USC title chances in 2007 (40-point home favorites against Stanford?) and 2008 (at Oregon State)?

UCLA needed ONE tackle against Miami to play for the 1998 national title. Oregon, in the 2010 title game, couldn’t stop Auburn on the final drive.

“Finish it off!”

Stanford, in 2013, left a playoff chance on Utah’s goal line. You want more read this:[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Oregon, in 2014, made the title game with the nation’s best player, Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Ohio State started its third-string quarterback.

Washington, last year, missed the playoff because it played pat-a-cake in the Red Zone at Arizona State, a 13-7 loss.

Two weeks, ago, Washington missed another marque opportunity against Auburn because the Huskies could only muster three points out of three second-half Red Zone trips.

So, you go Herm Edwards. The world laughed when Arizona State AD Ray Anderson made this hire and then announced there was a new world Tempe? The Sun Devils produced a management-style manual that looked like a combination of Ayn Rand and the flow chart from a start-up Silicon Valley juice company.

Look who’s laughing now?

We’re with you all the way, Herm, or at least all the way to Saturday night’s game at San Diego State. You might have to finish that one too.

Last week, in the final two minutes against Michigan State, Herm’s heroes didn’t flinch.

“The players understood exactly what we were trying to do,” he said.

Pac 12 power programs could learn from this unless, of course, Arizona State is about to become one of them.[/membership]