For a typical college football program, the chance to have an eight-win season can be looked at as a successful one. Not for Arizona State football coach Todd Graham.
That sense of failure where so many other programs would see success is a testament to the rising bar for the Sun Devils under Graham.
“If we can go and finish this thing out and win eight games and for that to be a disappointing season, that shows how much these guys have accomplished,” Graham said about his seniors on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf show.
“When we took (the program) over, it was far from that and I like that. I like that these seniors and this group of young men have been a part of a change of culture and also the change in the expectations of our program. That’s something that I’m excited about.”
At 6-5 overall, 2-2 in the Pac-12, ASU will need a win Saturday when the Sun Devils travel to Berkeley for a 8 p.m. kickoff against California (6-5, 3-5), and get a win in whatever bowl game it is invited to in order to accomplish the eight-win season.
It’s a far cry from where the Sun Devils had hoped to be at this point in the season. Some preseason predictions had ASU picked to finish as one of the final four playoff teams, and others even speculated a national championship.
Nevertheless, the expectations are a sign of the success the program has endured since Graham took over in 2012. In four years at the helm, Graham is 34-17 as head coach, including the first back-to-back 10 win seasons for the Sun Devils since 1973 and a Pac-12 South Division championship in 2013.
“Obviously our expectations were pretty high going into this season,” Graham said. “We didn’t accomplish our goal, but for these seniors, we are coming off the three best academic years in ASU football history and the three years prior to this season they have won more games then they ever had in a three-year period.”
ASU is coming off a 52-37 win over in-state rival Arizona last week. Graham said that he doesn’t like the idea of playing another regular season game following the rivalry game.
“I would rather have our last game be against Arizona,” Graham said. “My job is to coach and I don’t control those things so there isn’t much I can do to worry about it. It’s a little different but we have to go and get it done.”
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