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Erickson ready for challenge at ASU

Dennis Erickson is introduced to the media as the new Arizona State University football coach Monday in Tempe. He replaces Dirk Koetter, who was fired.
Dennis Erickson is introduced to the media as the new Arizona State University football coach Monday in Tempe. He replaces Dirk Koetter, who was fired.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State turned to a well-traveled coach Monday, introducing Dennis Erickson as the man to lead the Sun Devils' football program out of mediocrity.

The hiring, announced at a news conference on the ASU campus, marks the third Pac-10 coaching job for Erickson. He previously had stints at Washington State and Oregon State.

"It's exciting for me to have an opportunity to come to Arizona State and compete for the BCS championship, to compete for the Pac-10," Erickson said. "I'm looking forward to elevating the program."

The 59-year-old coach has a 149-64-1 record in 18 seasons that, in addition to the two Pac-10 schools, included stops in Idaho (twice), Wyoming and Miami. He also coached six years in the NFL, four with Seattle and two with San Francisco.

Erickson comes to Arizona State after one season at Idaho, where he had taken the job where his career started. He was out of coaching in 2005 after being fired by the 49ers following a 2-14 season.

His Vandals went 4-8 last season, and his abrupt departure left Idaho athletic director Rob Spear "very disappointed." Spear said Saturday night that Erickson had told him he was accepting the ASU job.

He replaces Dirk Koetter, who was fired after six seasons.

Erickson's biggest success came at Miami, where the Hurricanes were 63-9 in six seasons and won national championships in 1989 and 1991. He left Miami for the NFL's Seahawks, where he was 31-33 from 1995 through 1998. Erickson was fired by the Seahawks and replaced by Mike Holmgren.

His best coaching performance might have been at Oregon State. Erickson took over the Beavers' program in 1999, when OSU had an NCAA Division I-record streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons. His first team went 7-5 and appeared in the Oahu Bowl. His second Oregon State team capped an 11-1 season with a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl rout of Notre Dame.

Erickson left the Beavers in 2003, accepting a five-year, $12.5 million contract with the 49ers.

His career, while highly successful, has been clouded at times. Miami faced NCAA sanctions after his stint there, and in 1995, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. His players, especially at Miami, were known for their overly aggressive and sometimes undisciplined behavior.

"You talk about discipline," Erickson said. "I see it happen sometimes but I don't see that's something that has happened regularly in Dennis Erickson's program at all. We play hard, we play with a passion, and we play the game the way I think it should be played."

Love said she looked into all the reported problems he had and she said the NCAA violations at Miami began before he got there and that he said he was unaware of them while he was there.

The Sun Devils are aiming to move into the upper reaches of the Pac-10. Koetter's teams earned bowl appearances each of the last three seasons, but he had a 21-28 overall conference mark and was 0-10 against Pac-10 teams in California.

Koetter will coach Arizona State through its Dec. 24 appearance against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

TULANE HIRES TOLEDO: New Mexico offensive coordinator Bob Toledo is taking over at Tulane.

Lobos coach Rocky Long confirmed the hiring Monday, and said he wasn't surprised to be losing the former UCLA coach after one season.

"I knew that was a possibility. When I coaxed him out of retirement, I told him if we had some success here he'd probably get a chance to be a head coach again," Long said.

Long said Toledo will continue to coach the Lobos' offense through the Dec. 23 New Mexico Bowl against San Jose State. The Lobos went 6-6 this season.

Toledo will take over for Chris Scelfo, who was fired after Tulane finished 4-8 this season.

Toledo coached at UCLA from 1996-2002, compiling a 49-32 record that included a school-record 20-game winning streak and two Pac-10 championships.

Long said he probably won't fill Toledo's job until after the season.

BC INTERVIEWS STEELERS' WHIPPLE: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback coach Mark Whipple has interviewed for the head coaching job at Boston College, Steelers coach Bill Cowher said Monday while endorsing his assistant for the job.

"I know Mark met with them (Sunday), and he said it went well," Cowher said Monday at his weekly press conference. "He's excited about the opportunity. I think he'd be a great candidate for that school."

Whipple was the coach at New Haven and Brown before taking over at the University of Massachusetts, where he had a 49-25 record from 1998-2003 and won the NCAA Division I-AA championship in '98.

Tom O'Brien left BC this month to take over at North Carolina State.