ASU Football: Graham Got It Right


Sep 5, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham against the Sacramento State Hornets in the second half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, Todd Graham was the pariah of college football. A journeyman head coach, criticized for his controversial exit from a Pittsburgh program he had just finished leading to a disappointing 6-6 record to take the head job with an undisciplined, underachieving Arizona State team.

Two Territorial Cups, 18 wins and a Pac-12 South Championship later, the pariah has become a savior. Graham’s disciplined approach, coupled with his catchy sayings, “down-home” disposition and commitment to his craft have become a breath of fresh air the school, program and fan base desperately needed.

The Mesquite, Texas, native is not afraid to bench or suspend even the most valuable players, he has re-established the in-state recruiting pipeline, repaired relationships with football alumni and made hundreds of appearances to build awareness and support for his team. Grades are up, penalties are down and the ASU Sun Devils are one win from their first Rose Bowl in 17 years.

Bottom line: Todd Graham got it right.

He may not be able to show his face in Steel Town for a while and he still catches flak on a national scale for his infamous exit “strategy,” but his move to Tempe has proven to be the right one. The city and weather are a recruit’s dream, the facilities are top notch and the fan base has never been stronger. And Graham is leading the way.

In-between bringing breakfast for overnight camping students and shaking a thousand hands, CTG is on the verge of building something special in Tempe — with Saturday’s match-up with Stanford stacking up to be the foundation.