Sun Devils turn to Todd Graham, discipline
That is, of course, if you don't count the many fans and media members who said the Sun Devils' lack of it was costing them.
Nowadays, though, you cannot go anywhere near the team without being told about how new coach Todd Graham has brought the much-needed attribute to the program, ensuring that the very things that cost the team its season last year will not show up again anytime soon.
"I think it was just not being disciplined," junior defensive end Junior Onyeali said of what caused the team to lose its final five games of the 2011 season. "And then when things went bad not pulling ourselves out of it.
"We just stayed stuck in the bad. We lost to teams that we really should have beat like -- let's just say we lost to teams that we should have beat."
Much of the excitement surrounding Graham has to do with the fact that he's not Dennis Erickson. He does not come to town with a reputation for letting the players run the program, and he does not arrive with the type of baggage that would make you question how he runs his program.
How he may leave a program is a different story, but even that discussion has faded to be background because at the end of the day no one cares about what you did in the past, only that you win games now.
But with uncertainty at quarterback while trying to integrate players into new offensive and defensive schemes, that may not happen much in 2012. It would be understandable to some and disappointing to many.
And while players talk about their appreciation for Graham's approach right now, losing wears on even the most ardent of supporters. Remember, everyone liked how Erickson ran things when he was leading ASU to 10 wins and the Holiday Bowl in 2007, with questions only beginning to surface as the losses began to mount.
As Graham is still undefeated, everything he does is looked at favorably.
"That's the thing that Coach Graham is trying to get into us since the first day we came in here," senior receiver Jamal Miles said. "He's just trying to get everybody disciplined because the Sun Devils are known as an undisciplined team from past experience."
Graham's style is one that likely came as a shock to some players, especially those who were cozy under the Erickson regime. Gone are some of the freedoms that were afforded to the players. Gone is the lack of accountability.
In their place are rules, some of which are accepted now because of where the program has been, but likely won't be if things don't turn around.
"One of the first things he did coming in here is he wants to ask us to take our earrings off when we walk into the building, he also asks us to take our hats off in the building and no headphones in the building," sophomore QB Mike Bercovici said. "When he first came in here he asked us to do it now he's telling us to do it because the way we walk, talk and present ourselves, not only in here, but outside the stadium is a representation of our football program."
None of the changes Graham has instituted have resulted in a mass defection from Arizona State, and nothing he is asking his team to do is really that unreasonable.
Carry yourselves as professionals; act like adults.
After losing 28 games over the last four seasons, any change will be welcomed, and that the players are buying what Graham is selling is as good as it is not surprising.
"He's bringing out the best in each one of us; he's a really good coach," junior safety Alden Darby said. "He knows what he's doing. He's a smart coach. What he brings to the table is by far what we need."
Right now what the Sun Devils need and what the Sun Devils want are synonymous.
Only wins will keep it that way.
- Steve Patterson, ASU athletic director - Tuesday May 14Patterson talks to the guys about the Territorial Cup & scheduling with Notre Dame Football
- Steve Patterson, ASU athletic director - Tuesday May 7Patterson talks to Doug & Wolf about the state of Sun Devil Athletics
- Steve Patterson, ASU Athletic Director - Thursday May 2Doug and Wolf talk to Patterson about the latest news coming out of the Pac-12 meetings.
- Brandon Magee , Former ASU Linebacker - Wednesday May 1Doug & Wolf ask Brandon Magee about signing with the Cowboys after going undrafted.
- Steve Patterson, ASU Athletic Director - Tuesday April 23Patterson talks to Doug and Wolf about ASU football games potentially being played at Chase field du