Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/21/11
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With a heartbreaking loss to rival Arizona on Saturday, the hot seat got a whole lot hotter for ASU football coach Dennis Erickson. But amid false reports of his looming resignation and increased speculation about his job security, Erickson remains focused on the Sun Devils' final game of the season. The fifth-year head coach had to once again address questions on Monday about his status in Tempe, and his response was essentially no different than it was a week earlier. "I'm living in the present right now," Erickson said. "I'm living for this football game (against Cal on Friday), and so is my team and my staff. We're all working to win this football game. "We can't worry about the hot seat or anything like that. I don't make that decision. ... I can't worry about that." On Sunday, a rumor surfaced that Erickson had informed his staff after the loss to UA that he would be leaving the program after the season. The report from footballscoop.com was unconfirmed, and Erickson addressed it later in the day, telling FOXSportsArizona.com's Craig Morgan that there was no truth to the report. Discussion of Erickson's job status was bound to pick up after a third straight loss, but Erickson and his players are brushing such talk aside with the possibility of winning the Pac-12 South and reaching the conference championship game still in play. If ASU beats Cal on Friday while UCLA loses to USC and Utah beats Colorado (USC and Utah are both heavy favorites), the three teams would be in a three-way tie atop the South division. ASU would own the tiebreaker in that scenario because of its divisional record and win over Utah. "We're mathematically still in it," Erickson said. "If you win that football game (Friday), you've got a chance, anyway. Even more than that, we've got 22 seniors playing their last football game here at Sun Devil Stadium." With that two-pronged incentive heading into the season's final weekend, the players also aren't giving much thought to outside chatter about their coach's employment. "That's just a situation I don't pay much attention to," junior quarterback Brock Osweiler said Monday. "Whatever's going to happen is going to happen. ... That's one of the things I can't control, so this week I'm just focused on Cal." Osweiler also said he was unaware after losing Saturday that ASU still had a chance at playing for the Pac-12 title until someone informed him of the three-way-tie scenario Sunday. Given the expectations he and the rest of the team had for themselves this season and their recent collapse, Osweiler said he's surprised the Sun Devils still have a chance to play for the conference championship. With much on the line once again this week, Osweiler remained confident the team would take advantage of its latest opportunity. "I know, personally, the players and coaches in this building," Osweiler said. "I know their personalities, their work ethics. I know the drive that they have within themselves. That's why I have the confidence that we can get back on track and finish this season the way we should. "In saying that, we've got a lot of work to do this week, but we are very capable of doing it. We look forward to the challenge and we'll see what happens." It's a quick turnaround for the Sun Devils this week, with their next game coming a day earlier than usual, leaving no time to sulk over what Erickson called the most difficult loss in his five seasons at ASU. "I'm not so sure, after a loss like that, the short week isn't better than a long week," Erickson said. "You just don't know how people react to it. "I believe they'll react good. I really do. I think they'll come out, play hard and do the things that need to be done to win."
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