Todd Graham, the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, enters his fourth season at the helm of the Arizona State University football program. Graham has led the Sun Devils to back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1973, three consecutive bowl appearances and a 28-12 record since his hire in December 2011.
Graham led the Sun Devils to a 10-3 record, including 6-3 in Pac-12 play, a second-place finish in the Pac-12 South Division and a 36-31 victory over Duke in the Sun Bowl in 2014. Tasked with replacing nine starters on defense, Graham led a unit that ranked near the top in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, and forced 27 turnovers and scored five touchdowns during the season.
On the other side of the ball, the Devils ranked 16th in the nation in scoring offense and averaged more than 440 yards per game behind record-breaking quarterback and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year Taylor Kelly, 1,000-yard rusher D.J. Foster and 1,000-yard receiver Jaelen Strong.
Graham has also taken the Sun Devils to new heights in the classroom. ASU’s 12 Pac-12 All-Academic honorees in 2014 are the most in program history and he has mentored 26 conference all-academic selections in the past three seasons. In addition, 97 football student-athletes have earned Scholar Baller® recognition, which honors those who achieve a 3.0 GPA or higher, in the six semesters under head coach Todd Graham.
A total of 28 FBS schools hired coaches prior to the 2012 season, 17 of which remain at those schools. Of those coaches, Graham has posted the fourth-best overall record in his first three seasons behind only Urban Meyer (38-3), Jim Mora (29-11) and Kevin Sumlin (28-11).
The program has become one of the least penalized in the nation since Graham’s arrival, and in the past three seasons the Devils rank first in the Pac-12 in penalties per game and third in the nation in penalty yards per game.
Graham’s high-octane offense has eclipsed 50 points in 12 games since his arrival in Tempe, and the Devils are second in the Pac-12 and seventh in the nation at 38 points per game.
Over the past three seasons, Graham’s hybrid, attacking defense has outscored opponents 417-151 in points off takeaways. The Devils are second in the nation with a plus-35 turnover margin and rank in the top three in the nation in tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions. They are one of only four teams in the nation with more than 300 total tackles for loss, and their 130 sacks and 56 interceptions are both the second-highest totals among FBS teams.
Building off the momentum of an outstanding inaugural campaign as Sun Devil head football coach, Graham took the Arizona State program to heights it hadn't seen in over a decade in his second year leading the way for the program.
The 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Graham led the Sun Devils to a Pac-12 South Divisional Championship in the 2013 campaign and closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak en route to a 10-2 regular season record. The team lost just one Pac-12 game during the regular season, a feat that landed Tempe as the host site of the third Pac-12 Championship Game in history and catapulted the Sun Devils to a spot in the 2013 National University Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech in San Diego.
Despite playing the nation's sixth toughest schedule based on winning percentage, Graham's Sun Devils post double digit wins for the first time since the 2007 season and just the 12th time in program history.
ASU's non-FCS opponents in 2013 posted an 84-50 record this season (62.7) that represented the toughest schedule played by a Pac-12 institution. The Sun Devils finished the year with a 3-2 record over teams ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll at the time of the game, also a notable feat as the squad had not achieved a winning record in such games since going 3-1 against Top-25 teams in 1997. Additionally, the Sun Devils finished the season with a 4-3 record over team that were ranked in the final AP Poll.
At one point ranked 11th in the AP Poll, Graham achieved his highest ranking as a head coach in his career this year. The team also peaked at 11th in the BCS standings, also a new high for Graham. Graham has won 18 games in his first two seasons at Arizona State while - to put that into perspective - Frank Kush won 17 games in his first two seasons as head coach.
In his first year at the helm of Sun Devil Football in 2012 the team finished 8-5, their first winning regular season since 2007. They ended the season with three straight wins for the first time since 1978, including a dramatic win in Tucson to reclaim the Territorial Cup. ASU followed with a 62-28 win over Navy in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to end the season with three straight wins for the first time since 1978 and just the 14th time in school history. Additionally, ASU was one of just four Pac-12 teams to win at least three conference road games (3-2) in 2012, doing so for just the fifth time in the program’s Pac-10/12 history.
In 2012, the Sun Devils finished No. 14 in the country in scoring offense (38.3 ppg), scoring 40 or more points seven times and followed that up by racking up 39.7 ppg to finished 10th nationally. ASU had six games in 2013 scoring 50 or more points, surpassing its total from the previous four seasons combined (5).
Winning away from home in college football is difficult, especially in conference games. Despite that, Graham is beginning to assemble a pretty good resume of road/neutral site victories and has 12 in the past three seasons. They Devils collected four in 2012 (at California, Colorado, Arizona and vs. Navy at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl), three straight in 2013 (at Washington State, at Utah and at #14 UCLA) and five in 2014, including a stretch of four consecutive (at New Mexico, Colorado, #16 USC, Washington and vs. Duke at the Hyundai Sun Bowl). ASU also has had two very close losses on the road under Graham, a four-point loss at Missouri and a three-point loss to Notre Dame in Dallas.
ASU finished the 2014 season with a 5-1 record at Sun Devil Stadium and is now 16-4 under Graham in Tempe. With the Pac-12 Championship game considered a neutral site, 2013 marked just the second time ASU went undefeated at home in the regular season in the past 16 seasons (since 1997), also going 6-0 in 2004. The lowest score the Devils have recorded at home under Graham in a regular season game is 21 against Oregon in 2012.
Graham has mentored some of the top ASU student-athletes in recent history, including Will Sutton, two-time Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American, Taylor Kelly, Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, All-American Jaelen Strong, and NFL running back Marion Grice.
Sutton, a defensive tackle, became ASU’s sixth winner of the Morris Trophy and the 18th consensus All-American and first since 2007. Sutton also became the fifth ASU player to win the Pac-10/12 conference Defensive Player of the Year award. After accomplishing all of that as a junior, Sutton returned for his senior season and repeated as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and Morris Trophy Winner while adding numerous All-American accolades.
The duo of Sutton and linebacker Carl Bradford combined to give ASU the most dynamic defensive tandem in the country as the two combined for 24.5 sacks and 44.0 tackles for loss in 2012. Their collective average of 1.92 sacks per game was the highest in the country by two players on the same team since the 2006 season. Bradford racked up 40.5 tackles for loss in two years under Graham, tied for the fourth most by any player in the nation in that time.
Graham mentored three-year starting quarterback Kelly, who was a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and a finalist for the academic Heisman, the William V. Campbell Trophy, in 2014. Kelly finished his ASU career as the school record-holder in total offense, points responsible for, total touchdowns and rushing yards by a quarterback, and was just the second ASU quarterback to have over 3,000 yards in multiple seasons.
Grice found the end zone 19 times in 2012 and 20 times in 2013 before missing the last three games due to injury. He finished his Sun Devil career with 39 total touchdowns, which was fifth-most in ASU history and was named a finalist for the 2013 Hornung Award, given annually to the nation's most versatile player - a byproduct of the fact that he was the only player in the country with over 400 yards rushing, receiving and on kick returns.
Graham was named the 23rd head football coach in program history on December 14, 2011, arriving in Tempe from the University of Pittsburgh.
Right from his introductory press conference, Graham made it clear he was going to infuse the program with a culture that was about winning in all facets of a student-athlete’s life. Graham referred to it simply as, ‘The Sun Devil Way.’
“Our goal as a program is that we are going to first and foremost bring out the best in every single person's character that's involved in our program,” Graham said. “I'm not only interested in winning on Saturday... I want to win every day in every way. We will compete in the classroom as we compete on the field.
“On the field we're going to be passionate and disciplined. Discipline is the key to winning football games. We're going to be involved in the community. The greatest joy that I've had in my life is to learn to be a giver… I want our players to understand that family and character and bringing out the best and being a giver, that's what I call unique character, is giving every day.”
Graham became well-known on the national scene following a four-year stint at Tulsa (2007-2010) where he led the Golden Hurricane to a 36-17 mark, which included three bowl wins and three seasons of 10-plus wins. Tulsa was one of just 11 schools to post back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2007 and 2008.
The native of Mesquite, Texas, had seasons at Tulsa which included records of 10-4 (2007), 11-3 (2008) and 10-3 (2010) and in his final season the Golden Hurricane won games at Notre Dame and then topped No. 24 Hawaii 62-35 in its own bowl game. The Notre Dame win was dubbed the biggest upset of the 2010 college football season by ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.
His 2008 team again led the nation in total offense (569.9 yards per game) while ranking second in scoring (47.2 points per game), fifth in rushing (268 ypg) and ninth in passing (301.9 ypg). His team finished 11-3, capped by another large bowl win, a 45-13 victory over No. 22 Ball State in the GMAC Bowl.
Including ASU’s 62-28 win over Navy in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Graham’s offense has enabled three different teams (two at Tulsa) to score 60-plus points in a bowl game, making him the only coach to accomplish the feat multiple times.
In addition to distinguishing himself as an exceptional leader, Graham has also developed a reputation for identifying and hiring some of the nation’s top assistant coaches and perhaps none have been as successful as Deputy Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell, who has transformed the Sun Devil offense into one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses in the nation.
Prior to taking the head job at Tulsa, Graham led Rice to its first bowl game in 45 seasons in 2006 and earned Conference USA Coach of the Year honors that same season.
While known for leading programs that have annually been among the nation’s leaders in offensive production, Graham gained national acclaim for his coaching prowess on the other side of the ball after leading defenses that helped West Virginia (2002) and Tulsa (2003) engineer two of the top single-season turnarounds in recent memory. With head-turning accomplishments like those it is easy to see why Graham believes that defense wins championships.
Graham-coached teams have also developed a propensity for lighting up the scoreboard. His offense has enabled three different teams to score 60-plus points in a bowl game, making him the only coach to accomplish the feat multiple times. In addition his Tulsa team routed Bowling Green, 63-7, in the 2007 GMAC Bowl, the largest bowl margin of victory in NCAA history.
Graham began his coaching career in 1988 as an assistant at Poteet High School/Middle School in Mesquite (1988-90) and then helped lead East Central University from a .500 program to NAIA national champions in his third year as he served as defensive coordinator from 1991-93. One year later he was at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla., and then spent time from 1995-2000 at Allen High School in Allen, Texas. While at Allen, north of Dallas, he also served as athletic director and led a program that had no district wins in the year prior to his arrival to five playoff berths in six seasons (1995-2000).
Graham was hired as the linebackers coach at West Virginia in 2001 and one year later he was promoted to defensive co-coordinator as the Mountaineers went from 3-8 to 9-4, the top turnaround in the country in 2002.
In 2003 Steve Kragthorpe hired Graham as the defensive coordinator at Tulsa. For the second time in as many years, a Graham-led defense proved instrumental in helping a program post the nation’s best turnaround as the Golden Hurricane went from 1-11 in 2002 to 8-5 in 2003. Graham’s defenses would help lead Tulsa to a pair of bowl games before he moved on to take over the head job at Rice.
Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite High School and, after graduating in 1983, he played for East Central University in Ada, Okla., where he was a two-time NAIA All-American defensive back.
Born Dec. 5 1964, Graham earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees in education from East Central University. He and his wife, Penni, have six children: Bo, Natalie, Hank, Haylee, Dakota and Michael Todd Jr.
TODD GRAHAM BACKGROUND
Overall Head Coaching Record: 77-41 (9 seasons)
TODD GRAHAM COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE
Patriot's Bill Belichick big fan of ASU's Todd Graham (Dan Bickley, AZ Central, Jan. 27 2015)
Graham finds success in first season at ASU (John Marshall, Associated Press, Jan. 15, 2013)
Wind Sprints (Matt Simpson, Alumni Magazine, Sept. 2012)
Todd Graham is Proud, Content with ASU Football (Dan Bickley, AZ Central, Dec. 19, 2012)
Coach Todd Graham builds momentum before football season's opening kickoff (Matt Simpson, ASU Magazine/Sept. 2012)
Todd Graham embracing his latest challenge at Arizona State (By John Klein, Tulsa World/July 15, 2012)
Graham, players sit down with students on multi-campus tour (By Josh Nacion, The State Press/Feb. 28, 2012)
Recruiting Report Card: Grading how new coaching hires fared (Ben Glicksman, SI.com/Feb. 7, 2012)
ASU football coach Todd Graham's roller coaster ride on Signing Day (Richard Obert, azcentral.com/Feb. 2, 2012)
ASU coach has three No. 1 priorities (Ted Miller, ESPN/Jan. 30, 2012)
Graham catching his breath after month at ASU (Fox Sports Arizona/Jan. 16, 2012)
Like it or not, discipline is coming to ASU football (The Arizona Republic/Jan. 5, 2012)
Coach Graham Press Conference Quotes in PDF Format (9 pages, easy to print)
Todd Graham on The Bertrand Berry Show (Dec. 19, 2011)
Former ASU Head Coach John Cooper on Hiring of Todd Graham
Channel 12 Interview With Todd Graham (Jan. 3, 2012)
Kevin Hunt 1-on-1 Interview with Todd Graham (Jan. 8, 2012)
Since his hire, ASU football coach Todd Graham hasn't stopped (May 19, 2012)
Graham working to rehabilitate ASU program -- and own image (June 7, 2012)
"This is a destination job." (May 1, 2012)