ASU coach Todd Graham drew criticism when he first accepted his current job because he left Pittsburgh after just one season. It’s not the first time he departed a head coaching position after one season.
But the upcoming season will be Graham’s third at ASU. He has exceeded expectations, winning 10 games in 2013 and capturing the Pac-12 South.
Former ASU and Dallas Cowboys defensive back Darren Woodson gave rave reviews of Graham on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and even compared the Sun Devils to powerhouse Alabama.
“He wants the entire culture of that school to change as far as the football program is concerned,” Woodson said. “I love it. That’s what you see in big-time programs. What Todd Graham is doing right now at Arizona State is what you see in some of the big-time programs like at Alabama, Auburn, a lot of the SEC schools, Texas A&M. These guys really get it and it starts from recruiting.”
ASU ranked last out of 120 teams in college football in penalties per game (8.4) in 2011, the year before Graham arrived. He has improved that dramatically by finishing 12th and 19th in 2012 and 2013, respectively in that category.
Woodson believes Graham has not only improved the Sun Devils’ on-field discipline, but also off the field.
“We look at Arizona State over the years, they’ve been the most undisciplined team that you could ever have in the Pac-12,” Woodson said. “They were terrible as far as discipline, not knowing where they’re going defensively, guys missing classes, not being eligible. He’s changed a lot of that.
“That’s hard when you’re talking about a culture that’s sort of been the same for a long time and you’re talking about 18-year-old, 19-year-old kids. That’s a hard, tough change and he’s faced it straight on and you have to respect where he is right now and where this program is.”