Graham hopes to build foundation through fans
Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham prides himself in communicating one-on-one with fans, and calls it a vital part of building a successful football team.
Graham hosted a fan forum over the phone on Wednesday night exclusive to season ticket holders. Fans were able to ask questions and talk to the coach individually, a much needed change of pace for Sun Devil followers in the Valley.
"People know if you genuinely have a passion for what you do, and I want to demonstrate that to them. People want to know their coach, and know what we're about," Graham said to fans. "If we meet someone, and shake their hand, at least we have a chance to earn their support. At least they know what we're about."
Graham has done over 100 events to support ASU and the community since he was hired in December, and has around 40 more scheduled before the beginning of July.
"What we've got to improve is the reputation of our program and get it back. Remind people we have won Pac-10 or Pac-12 championships," Graham said. "We have competed and won the Rose Bowl. We've done that before, and we need to restore that."
Graham has been to all four ASU campuses, attending events for different departments and said he even went to a fraternity dance to talk to students.
"The students are what drive game day atmosphere, so they're so important to us," Graham said. "And also our alumni and fan base, I want them to know what kind of team we're going to put on the field. We're going to work hard to build a team that's going to represent them with character and class."
Graham spent an hour on the phone, and took questions from fans who had been season ticket holders, some for over 15 years.
Everyone seemed enthusiastic and supportive of the message Graham had, which was that they hope to build a strong relationship with fans and players; one that will draw talented recruits to the Valley for years to come.
"I think young men sign with coaches. You really have to work hard. It takes time to develop that relationship. Kids have to look at our program as big time," Graham said. "This is a big time program, and we want to be in the elite. We want to be in the top ten of the country."
Graham knows that the team has some work to do and that it won't just be a quick fix, especially after a 6-7 season that ended with five losses in a row.
"Obviously, to do that, we've got a lot of work to do. We've got to first see ourselves that way, and we need our fans to do that too," Graham said.
With that said, Graham believes the team has begun the transformation process and is headed in the right direction.
"We're in the process of doing that and when you're recruiting guys at that level, they have other options," Graham said. "I think we're doing very, very well, we feel very confident that we're going to put together the best recruiting class we've ever had here."
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