As soon as Todd Graham stepped on Arizona State’s campus for the first time after taking the head football coaching position, there was a faction of people just waiting for him to jump to the next best job.
Graham’s background warranted that after he left both Rice and Pittsburgh following one-year stays.
The coach’s early success at ASU coupled with the season-long rumors about the future of Mack Brown as Texas’ head coach led to much speculation that Graham could be a candidate for the Longhorns’ post — one of the most coveted jobs in all of college football.
Of course, that didn’t happen. Former ASU athletic director Steve Patterson, now the boss at Texas, plucked Charlie Strong from Louisville to lead UT’s program moving forward, effectively ending the seemingly ever-present “Graham to Austin” narrative.
But ESPN college football insider Mark May says despite Graham signing a contract extension with ASU, saying all the right things and an agreement being struck between Arizona State president Michael Crow and Patterson that Graham couldn’t be hired, the coach very much wanted the UT job.
“I heard through the grapevine, not publicly, but privately, Todd Graham was lobbying like heck to get the Texas job,” May told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports now on 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Chew on that one, Arizona State Sun Devils fans.
“I heard it from not one, but two of our reporters at ESPN, that he was lobbying to get that job. It was another one of his ‘dream jobs.'”
When asked about the agreement reportedly struck between Patterson and Crow that would have prohibited the new UT athletic director from hiring anyone from ASU, May said he heard that there wasn’t much to it.
“I’m just telling you what I was told by our reporters at ESPN, that is not the case,” he said.
In all fairness, May has been long perceived as a “Graham-basher” due to the coach leaving Pittsburgh, May’s alma mater, after just one season. That was addressed as well.
“We have Paul Chryst, who’s probably a better guy for the program and is going to be there for the long-term.”
May didn’t stop at sharing what he’d heard about the Texas job, he blasted Graham’s coaching performance in ASU’s Holiday Bowl loss to Texas Tech.
“Worst coaching job in bowl season,” he said. “Yes, they lost their conference championship game to Stanford, but that’s a team that should have rolled over Texas Tech, because they’re a ‘down’ program.
“That was a game that was supposed to be a blowout for Arizona State and they were the worst-prepared team throughout the bowl season.”
There hasn’t been an official response from Arizona State University, nor should there be one, but senior associate athletic director Rocky Harris tweeted the following.
— Rocky Harris (@SunDevilRocky) January 8, 2014