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ASU head coach Todd Graham will relish homecoming trip

Todd Graham will get to show his players his old stomping grounds this weekend when Arizona State heads east to Arlington, Texas to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

A Texan, born and bred, Graham told media gathered in Tempe Thursday that he’s looking forward to the homecoming.

“It really means a lot to me,” he said.

The coach grew up a little more than 30 miles from Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, in Mesquite, Texas. And the stadium, of course, is home to the Dallas Cowboys, the team Graham grew up rooting for.

In 1988, Graham’s coaching career began as an assistant with a high school in his hometown. Then, after a couple of stops in Oklahoma, he returned to the lonestar state to coach more high school football in Allen, Texas.

His last stint in his home state came at Rice University in Houston — the run that preceded his seasons at Tulsa, then Pittsburgh.

Graham, who took the head coaching opening with the Sun Devils in December of 2011, will have something of a reunion at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, he says.

“My middle school coach, my high school coach, my mom and obviously my brothers and my siblings are all going to be there,” he said, “and that’s the first time I’ve ever had that in my entire coaching career.

“So it means a lot. I want to do well.”

His team, which climbed to the No. 22 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll after its rout of USC last weekend, is on the back end of a difficult four-game stretch which included contests versus Wisconsin, Stanford and USC.