Wind sprints

Coach Todd Graham builds momentum before football season’s opening kickoff

"A lot of people think that you hire a coach with a magical scheme and you start winning. That's not the case," Graham said. "It takes commitment from everybody: the alumni, former players, fans, the university staff and faculty."

Todd Graham

It may be an election year, but no one's stumped harder in Arizona than a man who seems a lock to stay in office beyond November.

When he was hired in December 2011 as ASU's 23rd head football coach, Todd Graham said the surest way to sell out Sun Devil Stadium was to shake 74,000 hands before kickoff. By the time the 2012 season kicked off, anticipated making more than 300 public appearances, not including media interviews.

That's a lot of handshakes.
 


“It seems like it’s been breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day,” Graham said. “It’s about pulling people together. When people meet you, you have a chance to win their support.”

Winning support is a key for Sun Devil football as Graham’s tenure begins. At the time he was hired by ASU, Graham became the target of criticism from many in the national media, who took offense at his short stints as head coach at Rice (one year), Tulsa (four years), and Pittsburgh (one year). 

But for many of those who’ve met the 47-year-old Texan, the media’s perception has not matched reality. 

Jean Boyd, a senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development who played football for ASU in the early 1990s, said, “In a very short period of time, he’s exceeded my expectations. I can’t imagine a coach coming in and doing more right out of the gate.”

Author: 

Matt Simpson

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