TEMPE, Ariz. — Throughout Herm Edwards' tenure as ASU's head football coach, his ties to the NFL have been apparent.
That is more the case with the addition of former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick as an offensive analyst and advisor to the head coach.
Billick brings a Super Bowl pedigree to the Sun Devils, as he won Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens in 2001.
This won't be Billick's first time working in college. His coaching career began in 1977 as a volunteer wide receivers coach at the University of Redlands in California. He worked in college until 1991, eventually becoming the assistant head coach and tight ends coach at Stanford before moving the NFL.
Billick began his NFL coaching career in Minnesota in 1992 as the tight ends coach, and then was the Vikings offensive coordinator from 1994-98 before being hired as the Ravens' head coach, a post he held until 2007.
Since then, he has been working in broadcasting with Fox Sports and the NFL Network and it took until the Hula Bowl earlier this month for Billick to feel the itch to get back into coaching.
"It was at that time that Herm and (ASU Vice President for University Athletics) Ray Anderson reached out to me," Billick said. "Ray has been my agent and lawyer for as long as I can remember. Herm and I have known each other since 1980. And of course, (ASU Special Assistant to the Head Coach) Marvin Lewis was on my staff in Baltimore. And (they) kind of proposed what they were interested in, along the lines of what Marvin did when he first came in. So, we kind of talked about it, scrimmaged it around a little bit talked about where you know the biggest thing for me was where can I really help? Where can I make a difference? And after we talked it through, I decided that it would be a good way to go and so here I am!"
When Billick's hire was announced earlier this week, a clip from the 2001 season of 'Hard Knocks' surfaced, showing Billick giving former Sun Devil Todd Heap a hard time for where he played college ball when Heap was in his first training camp as a rookie.
"I’ve seen that clip a few times," Billick said, laughing. "Todd said he lived in Podunk, Arizona or whatever. Of course, you’ve got to get after a rookie a little bit. You’ve gotta give him some grief and when he heard, Todd called and texted me, it was great to hear from him."
Now that he is working with the Devils, Billick is beginning to dive deep into film to see where Zak Hill's offense needs help and how he can help quarterback Jayden Daniels improve as they head into the 2022 season.
"The key is I want to make sure I bring something to the table," Billick said. "And it really is, it’s that larger perspective, it’s whatever I can do to help the coaching staff with the basics, and it’s not about plays and protections and routes, I mean, frankly, in college ball, the same as the Pro Bowl, everybody’s doing the same thing. It’s about the teaching progression, it’s about the installation, the practice and the implementation, the communication of the offense, and what you want to do. And I think I can bring something to that regard and I’m excited to get started.
And while Billick hasn't been actively coaching for more than a decade, much like Edwards when he was hired in 2017, he's never been far from the game, and says not that much has really changed.
"Certainly the game has changed a bit in terms of the style, but the substance, the process, the situations you’re in, open field, nickel, short yardage, high red zone, red zone, plus-10, plus-5, goal line, backed up, it’s amazing how little it has changed in terms of the number of times you’re in those situations and now how you’re going to approach it," Billick said. "So that’s really what it’s about. It’s isolating those special situations so that you’re platforming the players’ abilities that match those situations."
Billick to 12 Sports he'll be in the Valley this week to start diving into film and meet with the coaches. And as he moves forward in his new role, he will be careful, because he wants to be successful off the field, and help the Devils be successful on it.
"I want to be careful when it comes to that ‘consultant’ title, that can not work sometimes," Billick said. "That can be confusing for the players because you don’t want the players and the coaches to be going, ‘Do I listen to this guy or do I listen to this guy or that guy?’ So you’ve got to be careful about how you go about doing that. And for me, it really is more about helping and coaching the coaches, although certainly, I’m going to be getting involved in trying to help the players as best I can. But formulating that process that’s going to help them help the players be the best they can."