Arizona State coach Herm Edwards lost defensive coordinator Tony White to Syracuse on Tuesday, but wasted no time in finding his replacements. The school announced Tuesday night that former Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and former NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Antonio Pierce will be the co-defensive coordinators for the 2020 Sun Devils.
Lewis spent the 2019 season as a special adviser to Edwards.He was 131-122-3 as the coach of the Bengals from 2003-18, and led them to seven playoff appearances.
"Marvin Lewis is someone that I have come to trust wholeheartedly during my career and his coaching acumen will prove to be invaluable as we continue to push this program forward," Edwards said. "He has coached at the highest level of football and spearheaded some elite defenses in the process. That kind of experience cannot be measured and his passion for teaching will extend beyond the student-athletes, but also to our coaching staff itself."
Pierce has been the Sun Devils' linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator since Edwards got the job prior to the 2018 season. He will retain his titles as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator in addition to his work in the new co-defensive coordinator role. Pierce spent nine years in the NFL from with the Washington Redskins (2001-04) and New York Giants (2005-09), was a Pro Bowler in 2006 and a member of the Giants' Super Bowl XLII championship team following the 2007 season.
"Antonio Pierce has established himself as one of the elite recruiters in the nation and is one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches around," Edwards said. "His impact with the linebackers and with the Sun Devil program in just two seasons has been tangible and he has been a pivotal part in our defensive success since his arrival in Tempe."
Arizona State finished fifth in the Pac-12 in defensive yards per play at 5.51 and scoring defense at 22.4 points per game. If there's one pressing need for Pierce and Lewis, it's fixing the Sun Devils red-zone defense. They finished last in the conference in opponent red zone touchdown percentage at 71.79%.
Edwards has consistently touted his program as one that has an NFL structure from an organizational standpoint, which was a big reason he got the job to begin with. Since then, he's stocked his staff with familiar faces in the pro and college game.