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Arizona State Sun Devils

Updated Dec 15, 2011 - 7:54 am

Todd Graham introduced as ASU head coach

New ASU head coach Todd Graham poses with VP of Athletics Lisa Love and ASU President Michael Crow at his introductory press conference on Wednesday (Photo:Vince Marotta/Arizona Sports)

Seventeen days after Dennis Erickson was fired by Arizona State, the search for a new coach came to an end on Wednesday.

Todd Graham, who spent the 2011 season as the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, was introduced at a press conference in Tempe presided over by ASU president Michael Crow and to a lesser extent, vice president of athletics Lisa Love.

During the entire two and a half week process, Graham's name never was mentioned as a candidate, maybe because he had only been at Pitt for eleven months.

Word spread like wildfire on Wednesday morning, infuriating the Pittsburgh fan base and perplexing ASU's.

Graham was smooth and inspiring in his first ASU press conference, and started by addressing the uncomfortable situation at Pittsburgh, where he notified his team via text message that he was leaving for Arizona State.

"You never want to leave a program, and I never dreamed I would have to leave a program under these circumstances," Graham said toward the beginning of his press conference. "The timing of these processes are extremely rapid, and it did not allow for me to address the team and that is very hurtful. I've never had to endure that and I really regret that I didn't have the opportunity to do that.

"I reached out to them the only way that I knew how, the only means I had at my disposal because I absolutely did not want them to hear about this on the news, I wanted them to know first."

After addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, the tone and energy Graham spoke with picked up, as he discussed ASU being a dream job for he and his family. His wife and two sons attended the press conference, and his younger son looked absolutely giddy as he was parading around the Dutson Family Theatre at ASU wearing his brand new maroon and gold jersey.

Graham also spoke of rekindling ASU traditions, getting former players more involved in the program and of his philosophy on football.

"The high-octane slogan speaks to how we do everything we do," Graham said. "It's how we walk in the building, it's how we practice, it's how we play offense and defense and that's with a passion."

Graham seemed genuinely sorry about the way things ended at Pittsburgh and genuinely excited about the future of the Arizona State program.

The prevailing feeling among ASU fans, at least initially, has got to be relief that the coaching search is finally over.

The rest of their feelings on the hire will be developed in the months to come.


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