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.
Graham led the Sun Devils to a Pac-12 South Divisional Championship in the 2013 campaign, closing 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.
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, collecting four in 2012 (at California, Colorado, Arizona and vs. Navy at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl). In 2013, ASU garnered three straight road wins (at Washington State, at Utah and at #14 UCLA) and are winners of four of the last five road games under Graham. That is seven road wins in the past 12 road games for ASU, including six Pac-12 Conference road wins in the past nine Pac-12 road games. 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 season with a 7-1 record at Sun Devil Stadium and is now 11-3under Todd Graham in Tempe. With the Pac-12 Championship game considered a neutral site, 2013 marked just the second time ASU has gone 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 last season and the team has scored 20 or more in 20 consecutive games in true home games, dating back to 2010.
In his first season at Arizona State, Graham guided the team to am 8-5 record as the program its first winning regular season since going 10-2 in 2007. ASU ended the season with three straight wins for the first time since 1978 and just the 14th time in school history.
That season, ASU beat Arizona in dramatic fourth-quarter comeback in Tucson to reclaim the Territorial Cup and went on to win a bowl game for the first time since 2005 and the 13th 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.
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.
Employing an approach that emphasizes excellent fundamentals and hard and disciplined play, the Sun Devils’ extraordinary improvement on defense played a paramount role in the team’s rise in the past two seasons. After finishing at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in several defensive categories in 2011, the Sun Devils experienced an amazing reversal last season as they led the conference in tackles for loss (No. 1 in the nation), pass defense (No. 3 in the nation), and pass efficiency defense (No. 10 in the nation) and finished second in the league in sacks (No. 2 in the nation), interceptions (No. 4 in the nation) and total defense.
ASU finished third in the conference in passing yards allowed in Pac-12 games (222.3 per game) in 2013 and now has eight interception returns for touchdowns in two years under Graham, compared to posting just four total in the previous three seasons prior to 2012. The total is tied for second with Baylor behind only SMU (9) for the most in the past two seasons. ASU has 21 interceptions in 2013, ranked first in the conference and third nationally. ASU’s five interception returns for touchdowns in 2013 were tied for first nationally with Florida State and Baylor. The Sun Devils have 42 interceptions in the last two seasons, second in the FBS behind only Houston (44).
As a whole, the Sun Devils have forced 63 turnovers under Graham in the last two seasons, second most among FBS institutions behind only Houston (74). The team has forced at least one turnover in 29 straight games - including every game under Graham - the second longest active streak in the FBS.
ASU outscored its opponents 146-42 on points off turnovers while posting a +15 takeaway number in 2013. ASU put points on the board following 75.8 percent of oppponent turnovers (25-of-33) compared to just the 33.3 (6-of-18) percent clip ASU opponents are scoring off of Sun Devil turnovers. ASU has 18 touchdowns this season on 33 opponent turnovers. In two years under Todd Graham, ASU has outscored opponents 275-100 in points of turnovers.
The duo of defensive tackle Will Sutton and linebacker Carl Bradfordcombined 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.
Sutton 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.
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 exposive and dynamic offenses in the nation.
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).
In his first season as the full-time starter in 2012, quarterback Taylor Kelly set the school single-season record for completion percentage (67.1). Kelly also finished tied for second in single-season school annals with 29 touchdown passes. Kelly has gone on to become just the second ASU quarterback to have over 3,000 yards in multiple seasons while moving into the top-five in just about every major statistical cateogry for a quarterback in school history, including setting the school record for points responsible for in 2013 with 222 on the season (29 passing, nine rushing).
Running back Marion 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 the 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.
One distinguishing characteristic of Graham-coached teams has been their propensity for lighting up the scoreboard. On two occasions Tulsa led the nation in total offense (2007 at 543.9 yards per game and 2008 at 569.9 yards per game) and ranked fifth in 2010. His 2010 Tulsa team also led the nation in interceptions (24) and was third in turnovers gained (36). His 2007 squad not only led the nation in total offense at 543.9 yards per game, it set 29 school records, 15 conference marks and four NCAA records. Tulsa routed Bowling Green 63-7 in the GMAC Bowl, the largest bowl margin of victory in NCAA history.
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.
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.
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: 67-38 (8 seasons)
TODD GRAHAM COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE
Arizona State sees resurgence under Todd Graham (Steve Greenburg, Sporting News, Feb. 28, 2013)
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)