ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Todd Graham is exiting his ASU coaching post with grace, class

Nov 26, 2017, 7:08 PM | Updated: Nov 27, 2017, 11:44 am
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham speaks at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day, Thursday...
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham speaks at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media day, Thursday, July 27, 2017, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

TEMPE, Ariz. — As soon as Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson had concluded his press conference to announce the firing of coach Todd Graham on Sunday, Sun Devil Athletics spokesman Mark Brand made an unusual announcement.

Graham wanted to address the media.

About 50 reporters and cameramen (maybe more) made the trek from the Dutson Theater at the south end of the Sun Devil Stadium to the media room in the new student-athlete facility that Graham’s fund-raising efforts helped build at the north end of the stadium.

After about 10 minutes, Graham appeared. What followed was a remarkable show of grace, class and accountability.

“It’s been an emotional day,” said Graham, who admitted his firing took him by surprise about 14 hours after ASU defeated Arizona, 42-30, in the Territorial Cup Game just outside that media room. “I was so proud of our team last night and what it meant to us.”

RELATED: ASU’s Anderson says ‘We don’t want to be ordinary’

Graham read from a script in which he thanked everyone from university president Michael Crow, former and current players, former and current assistants and their families, Sun Devil staff members, Sun Devil Nation, the people who supported the program and even the media, insisting that he would continue to support the program and he would always be a Sun Devil.

“We put our heart and soul, everything we had into this thing,” he said. “This building is my life’s work and I’ve got a full heart today. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity and the blessing.”

Graham said that despite the firing, the past three seasons’ trials and some unachieved goals, he is proud of what he accomplished at ASU.

“Six years ago, coming in here, it was a very different place,” said Graham, who has a 46-31 record and five bowl appearances in six seasons. “You always want to leave a place better than you found it and I really feel like we’ve done that.

“I walked in here and we were a 2.2 GPA [grade point average]. That does mean a lot to me that we’re a 3.0 and we’re doing what we should do for young people, and that’s helping them get an education.”

Graham said he felt compelled to address the media because he wanted to walk his talk; keep setting an example for the Sun Devil players.

“No way I wouldn’t come here,” he said. “How can I teach the values to our players and not come in here and address the fans and address the people that buy the tickets — that provide me with such an incredible life and experience to be a teacher?

“Life isn’t easy but I think it’s important when you face adversity as a teacher that you demonstrate to your players how you should handle that.”

Graham singled out his four wins against Arizona, the famous Jael Mary win at USC in 2014, a win over Notre Dame in 2014, and clinching the Pac-12 South title in 2013 at the Rose Bowl as special memories.

“We’ve had success,” he said. “Maybe it wasn’t enough.”

When asked if he would have done anything differently, Graham offered humor: “I’d have won every game I lost,” he said, eliciting laughter. “I don’t really have any regrets.”

When asked if he planned to continue coaching, he said, “I will coach until they throw dirt over the top of me.”

On that note, Graham confirmed that he would coach in the Sun Devils’ bowl game, which is likely to be the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

“If I’m going to go out, I’m proud to go out with these seniors,” he said. “I’m fired up.

“We teach these players how important the finish is and I want to finish.”

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona State Football

Pac-12 logo on the field during the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tempe, ...
Associated Press

Pac-12 Conference suffers 36% decrease in revenue in 2020-21

The Pac-12 suffered a 36% decrease in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year due to pandemic-related cancellations in football and basketball.
1 day ago
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) passes to running back Rachaad White (3) during the fi...
Wills Rice

A look at Arizona State football’s transfer portal exodus

Here is a list of the Arizona State players who have hit the transfer portal and where some of them have ended up.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 changing up championship format for football starting in 2022

The Pac-12 announced Wednesday that the two teams with the highest winning percentage in the conference will battle in the championship game.
3 days ago
Cam Johnson #7 of the Vanderbilt Commodores runs after a reception against the Kentucky Wildcats in...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State lands Vanderbilt WR transfer Cam Johnson

Arizona State continued to add to its roster through the transfer portal, landing a commitment from Vanderbilt receiver Cam Johnson.
14 days ago
Emory Jones #5 of the Florida Gators throws a pass during the first half of a game against the Samf...
Jake Anderson

Florida transfer QB Emory Jones announces commitment to Arizona State

The Arizona State Sun Devils football team added another quarterback to its roster on Thursday in Florida transfer Emory Jones.
16 days ago
Tight end Curtis Hodges #86 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs with the football against the Colo...
Jake Anderson

ASU tight end Curtis Hodges signs with Washington Commanders as UDFA

Former Arizona State Sun Devils tight end Curtis Hodges signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Commanders on Saturday.
21 days ago
Todd Graham is exiting his ASU coaching post with grace, class