TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State's first-year defensive coordinator, Antonio Pierce, addressed the media for the first time since three assistant coaches were placed on paid administrative leave in connection with the NCAA's investigation into recruiting violations within the football program.
ASU coaches and players have repeatedly told reporters they cannot comment on the NCAA’s review, but the future of the program and its personnel remain a focal point ahead of the Sun Devils' season.
Here's what Pierce, ASU’s recruiting coordinator, had to say about the NCAA probe and the fallout following Wednesday's practice in Tempe:
Pierce on if he has spoken to the three assistant coaches who are currently away from the team, what's his message to them, and where the program stands right now:
"It's real simple: I don't got no comment on it. Obviously, you know what's going on. We're working with the guys that we got here and the coaches we got here. My message is we're just focused on the Sun Devils right now."
Pierce on if he's concerned about his status as defensive coordinator with everybody else tied to NCAA investigation being put on leave:
Pierce on if he feels a sense of responsibility for the NCAA investigation as ASU's recruiting coordinator:
"I have no comment on that."
Pierce on his message to the team about moving forward following changes to the coaching staff:
"It's what coach Edwards has always been about: next man up. That's the NFL mentality, that's the pro model. Next man up. Be ready. No coach or analyst or GA that's in our building is not there just to sit there. They're waiting for their opportunity and when it's been called they have stepped up. They've done a good job.
Obviously Donnie (Henderson), on the defensive side of the ball, I'm learning from him. He's been a coordinator longer than I've ever even probably played football and coached combined. So I can't have enough experience or knowledge around me. That's really important for me. Having Marvin Lewis still in the room is very critical to our team and our success."
Pierce also fielded plenty of questions about his defense, the unit that’s had a strong showing in the first three weeks of preseason camp.
Here's how Pierce described the defense he has now:
"Older, wiser, talkative. I think determined, eager. Obviously, four games were just a tease and I think these guys have taken a lot of pride on playing 12 games, earning the right for a 13th game and possibly the 14th game."
ASU football kicks off its season at home on Thursday, September 2, against Southern Utah. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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