Early Morning Firing
When people say the name “Todd Graham” around Arizona State, there’s a love/hate relationship associated with him. Some people have either loved him as Arizona State’s coach or wanted him fired for about the past year. On Sunday morning, Todd Graham got fired from his head coaching position at ASU. The decision by Ray Anderson to fire Graham was due to the fact that both himself and the President of ASU, Michael Crow, wanted the “football program to compete with some of the best schools in the nation on a regular basis.” They both believed that Todd Graham did not do enough this season to salvage his job and decided to go a different direction.
Coach Graham’s Success
Whether you like Todd Graham or not, you have to give him credit for what he did with the football program here for 6 years. Yes, there were highs and lows along Graham’s tenure, but the program is in a way better shape now then it was when Todd took over. After taking over the program, Graham led ASU to 4 straight bowl games winning 2 of them. This year he led ASU to a bowl game when expectations were set low for this season. In addition, ASU won the Pac-12 South Title in 2013, and they were ranked as high as #7 in the AP Poll. Under Graham’s leadership, ASU had back to back 10-win seasons while ending those seasons (2013, 2014) ranked #21 and #12 in the AP Poll respectively. Not to mention, Graham was 4-2 against rivals U of A including a 42-30 win over Arizona on Saturday just hours before his firing.
Impact on players off the field
Coach Graham not only led ASU to success on the field but in the classroom as well. The team GPA was in the low 2’s when Graham arrived, and he will leave with a team at a 3.0 GPA. Multiple current and former ASU players have said that Todd Graham is like another father figure to them and that they have learned as much off the field as they have on it. In a day in age of college sports scandals, Todd Graham has made sure that the ASU football program did not falter and ensured that teammates and coaches would be held accountable for their actions. After expecting to finish second to last in the Pac-12 South this year, ASU exceeded expectations finishing bowl eligible with a 7-5 record (6-3 in the PAC-12) with huge wins over then #5 Washington, Utah, and Oregon. Graham maybe deserved to have another season coaching ASU but with the win now mentality that is not the case.
Ray Anderson and Michael Crow have a tough decision on their hands on who should be Arizona State’s next football coach. They must make the right hire, or the program will take steps in the wrong direction. The new coach must maintain the positive direction Todd Graham started here with academics, new traditions, and improved facilities. This coach has to be ready to step in and win right away or else the firing of Todd Graham will look really bad on the AD and the President. Whether you agree with the firing of Coach Graham or not, everyone who is an Arizona State football fan should be thankful for everything he has done for the program and for ASU.