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Herm Edwards Opens up About Diversity in Coaching, Athletics

One of four Black head coaches in the Pac-12, Edwards opened up on his views surrounding racial diversity in sports.

At Pac-12 Media Day, coaches and athletes from each team within the conference are made available to speak and answer questions about the school's current climate and the upcoming season. 

Heading into Tuesday, there was a great swirl of curiosity surrounding Arizona State given their current situation with the NCAA. Would conference commissioner George Kliavkoff address the recruiting allegations? Would any reporters dare raise the issue with head coach Herm Edwards when it was his turn to speak?

Those questions indeed were answered over the course of the sessions. Kliavkoff, along with two other prominent conference figures, declined to comment on ASU's situation due to policy. 

Edwards began his press conference by telling the media that because the NCAA is still probing the school, he was unable to comment on anything surrounding the investigation. 

Entering his fourth season at the helm of Sun Devils football, Edwards answered just about every other question to the best of his knowledge. 

However, one particular exchange stuck out during his 30-minute Q&A on camera.

Edwards Dives Deep into Diversity 

Nick Hamilton of Nitecast Media proposed a question to Edwards: What does it mean to be part of the Pac-12 that has four Black head coaches as opposed to the other conferences that don't have that number? What does it mean for you to be a part of this conference?

Edwards, a man who will never shoot anybody sideways, dived deeper into the topic than almost any other question offered. 

"Well, I think hopefully in life in general, we don't have to say that," said Edwards. 

"I mean, wherever I've been as a coach, head coaching position, I've always been the first. I don't even like talking about that. Why is that, right? I think this conference, it dates way, way back when I was in this conference, right, as a former football player, Pac-8. It's very progressive. It gives opportunities to not only men but women. 

"Talking about the coaches, look at the athletic directors, as well. That's just what this conference is about. I would hope that it shouldn't be, we shouldn't be, like the odd conference. 

"Hopefully in my lifetime, hopefully I got a little longer to go, that we shouldn't have to talk about this. This shouldn't be a subject. It should just be that's what it is. It's about what America is built on: dreams and opportunities. I think sometimes when we get into all these other things about what it looks like, 

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"I'm not trying to disparage diversity and all that stuff; I'm just saying I grew up in the '60s. There's some things I look at right now and I reflect on and go. Why are we still doing that? We should be past that by now.

"Hopefully, in the next 10 or 15 years, you'll still be interviewing, these folks will still be in the audience, I'll be somewhere at home watching my daughters and hopefully they'll be married and I'll be a grandpapa, That you guys won't ask these questions, won't ask the coach these questions, or ask anybody in business this question, about, what does it feel like? It should be normal. This should be normal. It shouldn't be a question we have to ask. 

"That's probably the most sad part of it all, that we're still asking it in 2021. Shouldn't be a question we need to ask, quite honestly."

Lifting Others Up

Edwards wasn't going against Hamilton's question and rejecting the idea of being a prominent figure for so many people. Edwards simply continued the message of progress as a society, and where we need to be.

When asked about the necessary steps to create more opportunity for minorities, Edwards offered this:

"I mean, you're here asking the question, and I can remember when I was playing, not many people looked like you asking those questions. You were given an opportunity. I think the thing you have to realize is when you're given an opportunity or a platform, you got to lift other people up with you to give them opportunities," said Edwards.

"That's what life's about. When you have a little success, make sure you give back, make sure you give back to the profession you're involved in. It by itself can evolve. That's what this thing is about, it's not about us, it's about the people that follow us and the opportunities that are provided for those folks. 

"That's why I sit here today. I'm standing on a lot of people's shoulders, giving me the opportunity to be here. We can never lose sight of that. It's important."

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Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit https://www.si.com/college/arizonastate/