They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round. They all laughed when Edison recorded sound.
Those are lyrics from a tune written by George Gershwin, recorded by artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra. The song was introduced in 1937, so if you’ve never heard of it, it’s okay.
Still, it’s a seems an appropriate way to start telling the story of how Arizona State football has transformed itself in under three years.
In December of 2017, the hiring of Herm Edwards was met with puzzlement, a bit of shock, and a healthy dose of skepticism. Now, in July of 2020, that surprise has been turned into genuine appreciation, and a healthy dose of gratitude.
Evidence of that can be found in Phoenix Magazine’s just-released The Great 48, a list of 48 people in the Metro Phoenix area (we know, we know, ASU is not in Phoenix) that have had a positive impact on the community.
Running back Eno Benjamin, headed for a career in pro football, also made the list.
Phoenix Magazine recognized Benjamin, noting he could get more work in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense than a seventh-round draft pick would usually expect.
Benjamin is also worthy of notice for his academics. When he was recruited from Dallas, Benjamin was immediately accepted into the Barrett Honors College, which, by the way, was part of what attracted him to ASU. Despite being initially recruited by then-Head Coach Todd Graham, Benjamin immediately acclimated himself to Herm Edwards’ program, becoming a team leader from the start of Edwards’ tenure, while rushing for over 1,700 yards as a sophomore.
Benjamin, who also played soccer in high school, sees the benefit in being drafted by a team that plays in the same general vicinity as ASU. It eliminates the often-awkward adjustment to a new city.
At age 66, Edwards is highlighted in the “Generations” section of the list, and it’s not hard to understand why. One thing most in Metro Phoenix have learned is Edwards connects with ALL generations.
During the current pandemic, Edwards is again showing his ability to deal with adversity. While he acknowledges maintaining communication with his student-athletes is challenging, his standard approach is “you have to learn to adapt to change”.
When he was hired, Edwards said one of the things he loves about football is the huddle, citing it as one of the things that makes the game special. During this unprecedented time, Edwards is again stressing the need for all of us to gather in a huddle and work together to get back to what will constitute normal in the future.
It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us have jumped on that now-famous train Coach Edwards referred to that late fall morning. It hasn’t taken long for a lot of people to figure out there is more to Edwards than just football.
Edwards likes to say he doesn’t coach football, he coaches people. In the estimation of Phoenix Magazine, a publication that doesn’t depend on sports, the people Edwards has been coaching the last three years don’t all wear helmets.
No one knows, even now, when, where and how college football’s next games will be played, and the excitement over the immediate prospects for ASU have been tempered by the pandemic. Also, no one in Tempe feels the need to gloat, or say ‘I told you so’ Still, the Great 48 list allows us to think the lyrics of that old song seem to fit:
The odds were a hundred to one against me, the world thought the heights were too high to climb…
Oh, I wasn’t a bit concerned, for from his’try I had learned how many times the worm had turned…
Can’t wait to see a huddle again….