TEMPE, Ariz. -- Dennis Erickson led Arizona State to bowl eligibility for the first time in four years with an impressive start to the season.
A monumental collapse by the Sun Devils may keep him from being there to enjoy it with his team.
Erickson plans to meet with Athletic Director Lisa Love sometime in the next few days to discuss his future with the program, and most indications point to his five-year tenure in the desert coming to an end.
"Everybody wants an answer to this and I don't have one, I really don't," Erickson said following Arizona State's 47-39 loss to California on Friday night. "I'm not trying to be smart or anything, but I don't have an answer. I know that we will probably meet early this week and talk about where the program is at and the direction it needs to go, and if I'm involved in it -- hopefully."
Erickson won a national title with Miami in 1989 and had stops at Oregon State and Idaho before arriving in Tempe in 2007. He had an impressive start in the desert, leading the Sun Devils to a bowl game and their first 10-win season in nine years.
After that, the program started to slide backward.
Arizona State won five games in 2008 and four in 2009. The Sun Devils won six games last season, but weren't bowl eligible because two of their games were against Football Championship Subdivision schools and the NCAA didn't approve a waiver to get them into the postseason.
Love decided to stick with Erickson and Arizona State went into this season with a new look and plenty of expectations, returning nearly every starter on both sides of the ball.
The Sun Devils, playing with new uniforms and a new intimidating logo, lived up to their billing early in the season, winning six of their first eight games. Arizona State became bowl eligible with a win over Colorado on Oct. 29 and was in control of the Pac-12 South and had a spot in the inaugural conference title game, possibly the Rose Bowl, in its sights.
Then everything fell apart.
The Sun Devils lost their grip on the South with a loss to UCLA on Nov. 5 and blew another chance the next week, losing to Washington State after the Bruins lost at Utah. Arizona State followed that with a disheartening home loss to rival Arizona, a team that had won two games previously and fired its coach.
Even after the loss to the Wildcats, the Sun Devils still had a shot at winning the division, thanks to UCLA's inability to close it out.
That fell short, too.
Arizona State's division title hopes ended when Colorado beat Utah on Friday night and the Sun Devils followed with the loss to Cal, their fourth straight to close out the regular season.
Even with Arizona State headed to a bowl, the limp to the finish could end up costing Erickson, 31-30 in his five seasons in Tempe.
"We love Coach E," Arizona State defensive tackle Bo Moos said. "Obviously, the blame is ultimately going to be put on him, but we don't feel like it should be. If that ends up being the case, then I'm just glad that this is my last year because I wouldn't want to play for anyone else."
The Sun Devils played well on both sides of the ball early in the season, with quarterback Brock Osweiler putting up big numbers and the hard-hitting defense stifling nearly every team it faced.
Defense let Arizona State down over the final stretch, played by poor tackling and missed assignments. The Sun Devils allowed an average of 37 points and nearly 500 yards per game during their four-game slide.
"In all the years that I've been in this business, I don't think I've ever had a slide like this, where all of a sudden we just went (downhill) just like that, particularly on defense," Erickson said. "I wish I could I put my finger on it."