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ASU Football: Marvin Lewis on Fall Football Cancelations

AllSunDevils caught up with Marvin Lewis to chat about the fall season that was canceled.

It’s hard to defeat an opponent that refuses to quit.

Last week, the Pac-12 officially put an end to any hopes and dreams of a conference football season happening this fall. While the news was somewhat expected given the current climate and unknown consequences of COVID-19, the official dismissal of football being played on schedule provides an easy outlet for players, coaches and conference higher-ups alike to wallow in the missed opportunities.

Yet the Arizona State football program chooses a brighter path.

ASU co-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis spoke with AllSunDevils about the fall cancelations. While a spring season may still happen, Lewis does feel for his players that have been showing up to the facilities and putting the work in since the beginning of 2020:

“I feel particularly for our players who have been working their tails off with their eye on the opportunity to play football. You’re disappointed for them. They really followed the protocols laid out by Herm and the rest of the ASU staff with us trying to keep everybody healthy and safe. So you know, you were hoping you’d get the chance (for football season),” said Lewis.

While competitive games for Pac-12 sports won’t have the green light until a best-case scenario January 1, 2021, Lewis mentioned Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards is doing his part keeping his team organized through scheduled workouts and other activities. However, Edwards is still awaiting final directions from the conference as far as temporary activities go.

With more downtime, recruiting has continued to run red hot for the Sun Devils after an impressive summer of gaining commitments for the class of 2021 and beyond. When asked how recruiting may be impacted, Lewis pointed out two key changes that he and the rest of the coaching staff have already seen.

“We think we’ve already seen a change in recruiting,” said Lewis. “Because many of the places or areas you would say we have prospects at, I think you’re seeing a lot more earlier commitments by young men in those areas because they want to solidify their spot and their opportunity because maybe they’re not going to get an opportunity to play their senior season. Also, I think some may try to take advantage of the early January, early enrollees. Once you get them here, they get an opportunity to get a head start on their collegiate career. I think we’re seeing an uptick in both of those areas.”

There are many debates as to a spring college football season and whether or not that truly is an option for players who dream of taking the next step to the NFL. With events such as the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and the actual NFL Draft itself taking place in the spring, many players may be keen on skipping a spring season.

While Lewis doesn’t believe the NFL Combine will be a big factor (we shared a laugh when calling it the ‘Underwear Olympics’), he does recognize how a spring season could potentially affect decision-making for players.

“I think anything that’s put together in the spring would have those parameters built-in as to not interfere for those guys who do want the opportunity to play in the NFL,” said Lewis. “I think it’s going to be a combination where you see some players decide to forgo an opportunity to play in the spring if there is a season and others who will play. And then you have a third (option) for players to take that extra year (of eligibility). So I think you’ll see all three areas.”

With NFL coaching experience dating back to 1992, Lewis knows exactly what it takes for players to the next level. I was curious about what advice he would give to players who will have a hard time choosing between foregoing their season or staying for an extra year.

“I think if indeed they truly are a guy who’s going to get picked the first or second day, then they’re really not going to enhance that opportunity by staying,” said Lewis.

“But if they’re not, they have an opportunity to improve on the field and improve physically, mentally and put better stuff out there on tape. You’re going to have a lot of people in kids’ ears telling them they’re something they’re not going to be. And so there’s going to be kids who get their feelings hurt. It will be an interesting paradox because the draft field may not be as it sometimes is, and so that will provide more opportunities in some cases for some players.

For the most part, I think a kid taking the opportunity to stay and play another season can be a good thing.”

However, any potential season remains months away from happening. For now, ASU looks to focus on the present. After speaking with Lewis, I couldn’t help but feel that Arizona State was taking disappointing news and turning it into a positive.

Coach Lewis on what the game plan is moving forward:

“Whatever time we’re going to be allocated, we’re really going to try to continue to teach our players the game and the essence of football.

Maybe that’s the fun of this; it’s slowed down time to teach them the concepts of why things are the way they are, the things that you do on defense, where the strengths/weaknesses are and get them to really understand (the defense). Particularly for the freshmen, we have a number of freshmen who only joined us in June. So the opportunity to further their knowledge of the game of football and maybe have them better prepared, and there’s no question physically the development they can have over the coming months. I think in every way, we’ve got to use this and be excited about it.

Last spring, we had the highest GPA for football here at ASU. We can capitalize on that and further that during the fall as well. For college football, the time frame is very, very constricted. So now we have the opportunity for our guys to learn more, ask more questions and so forth without the urgency of the fall season.”

As far as logistics go, a lot remains unknown for a fully functional college football season. When ASU does return to Sun Devil Stadium, however, it appears Arizona State will be ready in all facets of the team.