A little more than one week ago, ESPN NCAA analyst Mark May made some waves when he said Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham was lobbying for the top job at Texas.
“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. “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.'”
The job went to Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, but the report still ruffled some feathers. After all, it was believed there was an agreement in place between Texas A.D. Steve Patterson and ASU that said he could not poach coaches from his former employer.
May went on to say that would not have been a problem. In a way, because Strong got the job in Texas it was all a bit of a moot point. Graham, whose second year in Tempe resulted in 10 wins along with a Pac-12 South title, will be back for a third.
But was there a chance that wouldn’t have be the case?
“I think it’s funny because it’s completely untrue,” ASU Sr. Associate Athletic Director Rocky Harris told Bickley with Marotta Friday. “I have the non-solicitation agreement in my office, it’s black and white. [May] is just trying to stir it up, that’s what he does.
“You know what I heard from a few of my friends is he’s been positioning himself for a job at Fox Sports 1, and this was his way to kind of break out. That’s what I heard from a few friends around the office, I don’t know if it’s actually happening.”
Of course, the last statement was a joke, but it speaks to the way rumors can be started and spread. That does not necessarily mean May lied or was just saying things for the sake of saying things, but as far as the Sun Devils are concerned, there was no danger of losing their coach to Texas.
And even if there was, Harris admitted he wouldn’t have blamed the coach.
“That’s the nature of the business,” he said. “I will say this: I know for absolute fact that he didn’t (lobby for the job) on this one because I was in the office with Steve when he talked to him about his future here and how excited he is at ASU. Steve talked to him about Texas and what they’re planning to do there. In that room with the three of us, he would have positioned himself for the job, trust me. That was the time to do it.”
Harris said Graham talked about being happy in Tempe and excited to continue to build the program, which he added fit in line with the coach’s personality. Graham, he said, is the type of coach who likes to prove people wrong and turn a program into something special.
“I think what Coach Graham wants to do is become the new-age Frank Kush here,” he said. “Frank is a legend here.”
That would not likely be the case somewhere like Texas, where the expectation is to compete for championships every year because, well, they’ve done that before.
So even if Graham won there, that wouldn’t be enough to really separate him from other coaches the school has had.
“It’s just a much different place,” he said of Texas. “And again, like I said, I was in the room. I know for a fact that Coach Graham — maybe an agent or somebody out there positioned him for it — but I know for a fact he didn’t.”