Marvin Lewis has the convenience of joining Arizona State football and already having a house to live in.
In 2014, the now-former Cincinnati Bengals head coach bought a house in Arizona, two years after his daughter — an ASU alumna — got married in the Grand Canyon State. And when it comes to feeling at-home, Lewis is now going to be working as a special advisor to ASU football and its head coach, Herm Edwards, a long-time friend of his.
Aside from their friendship, another thing that goes back quite a ways is their collective experience in the NFL. Several decades between them, Edwards and Lewis are part of a revamped Sun Devil Football program that has several former NFL players and coaches on board the train, all under the supervision of athletic director Ray Anderson, who himself worked for the league office before coming to ASU.
“This is a building of knowledge,” Edwards reminded an audience of reporters multiple times on Wednesday, the day after Lewis’ hire was announced.
“We have to have knowledge. He brings a great wealth of that. Some of his things that he’ll help us with, obviously, he’ll have some special projects. He’ll analyze our opponents as well as ourselves. He will analyze coaches. It starts with me. Game strategies, things we try to do to become better as a football team, he’ll have an overview of all of that.”
Back in December of 2017, when Edwards was first hired as the head coach, a wordy press release with corporate-friendly language became the butt of a few jokes. The school called its highly-criticized hire and approach the “New Leadership Model,” an attempt to veer away from the traditional college football model and move toward an NFL-like structure.
Less than two years later, it’s not sounding so silly anymore.
Edwards, Lewis, Anderson, linebackers coach Antonio Pierce, football analyst Kevin Mawae and football consultant and ambassador Danny White all have NFL experience and are part of the Sun Devils program today. It’s all part of that building of knowledge.
“The more guys that we can get to graduate and the more guys we can send to the National Football League, why wouldn’t you come here? And you’re going to be coached by some coaches that have experience that can tell you what it takes to play in that league,” Edwards said. “We have players and coaches that have been in that league. We’ve been in the league 57 years total. That’s a lot of knowledge.
“When you walk in here, if you’re not asking questions, shame on you.”
Lewis was the head coach of the Bengals until this offseason, when he and the team parted ways. So after those decades in the NFL, he finds himself back on campus.
“I think it’s the opportunity to continue in football. I don’t know how many of them road trips I’ll go on. I’ve spent enough time on road trips and traveling,” Lewis joked. “But no, it was exciting for me to come and be a part of something that’s on the rise and building and be in support of what Herm is doing, and his coaches.
“It’s about the people that you have the chance to spend time and work with.”