The Arizona State Sun Devils’ recent past has been pretty good.
Their future appears to be even brighter.
The Devils have won eight, 10 and 10 games in Todd Graham’s first three seasons with the school, a total that includes two Territorial Cup victories and one Pac-12 South title.
Expectations are even higher for the team going forward, as they come in at No. 25 in ESPN.com’s NCAA Football Future Power Rankings.
A panel consisting of Brad Edwards, Brock Huard, Tom Luginbill, Mark Schlabach, Travis Haney, Heather Dinich, Sharon Katz and Adam Rittenberg ranked the teams by looking at their coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path and foundation. From 2014 to now, ASU improved in three of the five categories.
Noting the recruiting potential ASU has as well as Graham’s ability to find junior college talent, the Sun Devils are viewed as regular contenders in the Pac-12 South.
Their biggest strength, though, is Graham and his staff.
Graham is no longer a punch line for annually changing employers. He’s bringing stability to Tempe. No joke.
“He has done a really good job and made a trip to the desert a nightmare for a number of foes,” Huard said. “The punch line never had to do with Graham’s coaching chops; it had everything to do with his willingness to napalm bridges others coaches wouldn’t.
“Graham will be defined and judged by his longevity and ultimate departure from Tempe as much as he will by his wins and losses — though the two are obviously linked.”
The biggest knock against ASU was actually something the program has very little control of, with Dinich pointing to the team’s title path as being the most problematic aspect of their future.
It makes sense with the Pac-12 being so deep. To wit: USC is No. 6 in the rankings, Oregon is No. 10, UCLA is No. 19 and Stanford is No. 20. Last year’s Pac-12 South champions, Arizona, failed to crack the top 25.