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What Arizona State is Getting in Brian Billick Hire

The Sun Devils added their third former NFL head coach to ASU's staff. How can the move pay dividends for Arizona State?

On Monday, the Arizona State Sun Devils announced the hiring of Brian Billick, who will be brought on as an offensive analyst and advisor. 

"I am pleased to announce to Sun Devil fans that Brian Billick has accepted the position as Offensive Analyst, Advisor To The Head Coach, on my staff at Arizona State University," head coach Herm Edwards said in a statement Monday. 

"I have known Brian since the 1980s and he is a person whom I completely trust. He has built one of the finest reputations the NFL has ever known, serving as a head coach, an assistant coach and as a respected television analyst. Brian has one of the brightest offensive minds in football today and that is especially why I hired him. He will serve as a valuable resource to our entire coaching staff, but specifically to our offensive staff."

Billick, mostly known for leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl XXXV victory in 2001 (2000 season), finished his head coaching career with an 80-64 record after leading Baltimore from 1999-2007. 

"I've known Brian for over 20 years and I am confident that his presence at ASU as an Offensive Analyst and contributions as an Advisor to Herm will add great value to our program," said Arizona State athletics director Ray Anderson.

Prior to landing in Baltimore, Billick spent five seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1994-98. In his final season with the Vikings, Billick helped orchestrate a Minnesota offense that broke a then-NFL single-season record for most points scored by one team (556). 

"I have known Coach Edwards for over 40 years and both Ray Anderson and Marvin Lewis for almost that long," said Billick. "I was working the Hula Bowl two weeks ago with Mike Smith and ASU reached out to me at that time. I really enjoyed tapping into the players there and helping them to highlight their abilities. 

"They proposed this opportunity to me, to have another set of eyes looking at and evaluating Sun Devil football and I thought it was the right time for me to make this move. I love what they are doing at ASU. It's all about structure in the NFL and hopefully that's what I can bring to the table at ASU. 

"My work for the last 12 years in television at Fox and the NFL Network has allowed me to take a step back and see the game from a different angle. It broadened my perspective and that is what I will bring to this position." 

This isn't Billick's first taste of action coaching at the collegiate level. He began as a graduate assistant for BYU in 1978 before moving on to coach at San Diego State (tight ends, 1981-85), Utah State (offensive coordinator, 1986-88) and Stanford (assistant head coach, 1989-91) before making the leap to the NFL. 

Since Billick hasn't been in an official coaching position in 15 years, what exactly does Billick bring to the table for Arizona State? 

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What Arizona State is Getting

First and foremost, the Sun Devils are strengthening the desired "pro model" Edwards has tried to implement since his arrival in 2018. 

Billick, now the third former NFL head coach on staff behind Edwards and fellow special advisor Lewis, will help further push the emphasis of handling business like the very league many of ASU's players aim to play in. 

Between the three coaches, 33 years of head coaching experience at the next level looks to help shape a program's culture into a continual contender within the Pac-12. 

Some have suggested Billick could help strengthen Arizona State's recruiting draw, as his presence for the Sun Devils (on top of the already NFL-heavy experience on staff) could lure players who obviously hope to play on Sundays down the road. 

While his role as a special advisor will likely have very minimal (if any) weight in ASU's recruiting, Billick's perspective and insight could help identify potential targets. If any staff in the Pac-12 knows what the league looks like and requires out of players, it sure might be Arizona State. 

However, with Billick unable to personally work with players on the field, his true impact could likely be felt on Arizona State's offensive production, as he told The Athletic.

"Basically, I’m just going to bring whatever perspective I can, focusing on the offensive side of the ball, to help them to continue to formulate the best platform for the abilities for the players that they have," said Billick. 

"Ultimately, that’s what coaching is all about, trying to help the coaching staff as best as I can to match up what the players are best at and what they’re best at implementing. And basically, just giving them another set of eyes and perspective as to what can be done to help these guys reach their potential."

Billick's role should especially be helpful for offensive coordinator Zak Hill, who has fallen under heavy criticism from ASU fans for many of the Sun Devils' shortcomings on his side of the ball. 

While Billick won't be drawing up plays for quarterback Jayden Daniels and receiver Ricky Pearsall next season, it sounds as if he will be keen on squeezing the most out of the talent currently on the roster, which will be a major point of emphasis next season when factoring Arizona State losing three starting offensive linemen, their top two running backs and a mixed bag in the receiving corps. 

"In getting ready for the draft and looking through all the film — I get all the college games along with all the pro games — so in analyzing and looking at getting ready for the draft, obviously you get drawn into seeing, 'OK, what are they doing offensively and defensively?' I feel I have a pretty good feel for it. But it’s really not about Xs and Os. That part of it is pretty straightforward," said Billick.

"Fact of the matter is, everybody’s kind of doing the same thing. It’s more about process and matching up what it is you’re doing with the talent you have. That’s really the key, and that’s what I hope I can bring as opposed to bringing some magical plays or protections. That stuff really doesn’t exist."