The 2015 football season was a disappointing one for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils were ranked 15th in the preseason AP Poll and were picked by some as a darkhorse contender to make it to the College Football Playoff in its second year of existence.
Things didn’t go that way.
The Sun Devils were beaten by Texas A&M in their season opener — a high-profile neutral-site game in Houston — and seemingly never found their footing.
ASU finished 6-7 after dropping a one-point decision to West Virginia in a wild and wooly Cactus Bowl game played at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Most of the issues were on the defensive side of the ball, where Todd Graham’s defense surrendered 40 or more points three times in their last six contests and yielded an average of 463.8 yards per game — a figure that ranked 112th in the nation out of 127 FBS teams.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli released (part of) his annual ranking of the head coaches in Power 5 conferences, and the results didn’t bode well for Graham.
The Texas native, who is headed into his fifth year in Tempe, fell from 29th in 2015 to 36th this year.
Arizona State entered 2015 with very high expectations after consecutive 10-win seasons and then fell flat on its face. Graham’s ranking takes a hit because of it, but it’s still clear we think he can get things back on track.
Graham does rank ahead of four other Pac-12 coaches. USC’s Clay Helton came in at no. 51, followed by Oregon State’s Gary Andersen (52), Cal’s Sonny Dykes (53) and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre (61). Both UCLA’s Jim Mora (29) and Washington State’s Mike Leach (30) ranked ahead of Graham in this year’s pecking order.
Fornelli’s top 25 has yet to be released, but will include the conference’s other head coaches — Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich, Stanford’s David Shaw, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Washington’s Chris Petersen.
The Sun Devils open their 2016 campaign Sept. 3 against Northern Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
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