Todd Graham had a tough task ahead of him when he took the job as Arizona State football's new head coach last December. The Sun Devils were coming off a disappointing season that ended on a five game losing streak and fans were looking for a change.
Graham went on to lead the Sun Devils to a 5-1 record, giving ASU fans hope that their team could compete for a Pac-12 Championship.
But the last few weeks have been an entirely different story. The Sun Devils have lost their last three games, leaving fans wondering what happened to the team that steamrolled through their opponents at the beginning of the season.
Pac-12 Network analyst and former Sun Devil great Adam Archuleta spoke with Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf and said ASU's recent struggles are not a good reflection of what Graham has done for the school.
"I think Todd Graham has done some really good things at ASU," said Archuleta. "Of course they've stumbled a little but I think he walked into one of the more difficult situations as far as having a young team, not having a quarterback, not having a guy like [UCLA quarterback Brett] Hundley, not having a guy like [University of Arizona quarterback] Matt Scott, getting Taylor Kelly to play well."
Graham has repeatedly stated he expects disciplined and responsible football, something past Sun Devil teams have lacked. He stressed that he wants his team to model their style of play around Sun Devil legend and American hero Pat Tillman.
Before the season Graham came up with his own tradition of awarding a defensive player who he believes most embodies what Pat Tillman was all about. The player whom Graham believes best displays strong play on the field and leadership amongst his teammates will have the honor of wearing Tillman's number 42 in practice. Stressing the necessity of tradition, the idea of rewarding a hard-working player with such an honor has become a hit with fans and players alike.
"I think it's good. He wants his players to exemplify somebody who was one of the greats and has the characteristics that you want in a player," said Archuleta. "You want guys to understand the importance of practice and the preparation and get that to be the important thing. And so from all those standpoints and tying it into who Pat Tillman was, I think it's a really good thing. ASU needs some tradition like that."