TEMPE, Ariz. — Like many frequent flyers, ASU head coach Todd Graham has heard the pre-flight safety instructions enough times to know when he can occasionally tune out the flight attendant.
Yeah, not anymore.
“When I usually sit on the planes I don’t pay attention when they’re doing the little safety deal. Uh, (as he leaned closer to the microphone) you probably want to pay attention to that,” he advised during his weekly Monday press conference.
After returning to Tempe following ASU’s 55-21 win at Washington State, Graham and his son, running backs coach Bo Graham, chartered a small private plane for a recruiting trip to Texas.
Graham joked, “It was pretty uneventful, I guess.”
Early in the flight, after the plane had reached 35,000 feet, there was a loss of cabin pressure. The plane dropped to 10,000 feet to stabilize.
“It was kind of surreal,” he said. “I’ve never had the oxygen masks come down. It was definitely scary.”
Graham tried to remain calm.
“I had a good friend of mine tell me as long as you can hear the engines, you got a good chance to be fine,” he said.
With that in mind, Graham did what was logical.
“There was no communication with the pilots. I got up out of my chair about halfway through it and went up and grabbed the guy by his shoulder and asked him if the engines were still on. He looked up at me kind of startled why I was out of my chair. I kind of have a problem with control,” Graham said with a smile. “[The pilot] looked at me and said, ‘Yes, the engines are still on. Sit down!’ So, I went and sat down.
“It was pretty scary,” Graham continued. “My son was sitting next to me, so obviously trying to be calm and trying to make sure we do everything we could to get out of that thing safe.”
The plane made an emergency landing in Albuquerque. Graham and his son then waited for another plane to complete the trip and “made it just right around game time” to see the player, apparently worthy enough for such a harrowing experience.
“I guess things like that happen,” Graham said. “Not much to say other than thrilled to be here.”