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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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