On Wednesday, the Arizona St. Sun Devils officially introduced Todd Graham as the new football head coach. At the end of their 17-day search, the Sun Devils presented Graham as a young coach who will help ASU football move forward and deliver on its potential.
School President Michael Crow and Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love spoke at length about the search in general and Graham in particular before Graham got his chance in the spotlight. The duo emphasized Graham's ability to teach and mold young individuals while elevating the program to a new level. In Crow's words, Graham is a coach "who can teach, inspire, win, lose." Crow emphasized that Graham is the candidate who can help ASU "be among the best in everything we do" while Love summarized the entire coaching process by stating that the "patience, diligence in search" resulted in the hiring of a capable coach who is a "teacher, developer of young men."
When Graham got a chance to address the public himself, he began by introducing his family and speaking of his deep family ties to the Phoenix area. Addressing the negative press surrounding his farewell to Pittsburgh players- namely the fact that he merely texted his players his goodbye- Graham stated that "the situation did not allow me to talk to (the Pittsburgh) players in person." Graham stated that he regrets how things played out and has made it a point to return to Pittsburgh in the near future to right his abrupt departure.
From there, Graham went on to talk about the importance of relationships as ASU head coach. With regards to recruiting in particular, Graham stated that he "can't wait to talk to recruits" and network with local high school coaches. ASU faces uncertainty in its 2012 recruiting class with the departure of recruiting coordinator Steve Broussard and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to UCLA; regardless, Graham hopes to retain enthusiasm about ASU football in the eyes of recruits. "I think kids sign with coaches," he said. He promised to contact recruits as soon as possible, potentially as soon as Thursday morning.
Graham also addressed his plan for success at ASU: "Discipline is the key to winning football games...Our program is about discipline." His words stirred with the ASU football faithful who have watched the past few Sun Devil teams hindered by turnovers and penalties. Graham stated that he would ask his athletes "to work harder than anyone else in the country" and "be championship citizens."
All in all, Graham exuded energy during the entire duration of the press conference, even while addressing questions about his questionable track record of school hopping (Graham is entering his fourth head coaching job in six years). His passionate enthusiasm provides a nice change for the ASU football program.
Graham's address concluded with one statement that embodies his enthusiasm and passion, a statement that marks the beginning of a new era in ASU coaching history and all of the unpredictably that comes with it.
"Starting right now, I'm a Sun Devil."