Blog Entry

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 11:23 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson

Sometimes the coaching carousel spins slowly, and other times the college football world is blindsided by a surprise hire in the winter months. The news of Pittsburgh head coach Todd Graham departing to accept the vacant job at Arizona State came from the carousel's rapid spin cycle.

Graham's decision to leave Pittsburgh happened so quickly he did not take the time to tell his team in person, instead he sent them a text as he left for Tempe for Wednesday's announcement. After the Sun Devils' negotiations with SMU head coach June Jones reportedly broke down in the final moments, the school was happy to seal the deal quickly with Graham.

 "Criteria for our head coach was established, and the word that was at the forefront of discussions was `energy'... energy towards promoting our program in the community and with former players," Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love said in a statement. "Energy towards instilling discipline, leadership and in recruiting. Energy towards representing our brand in every facet of the program. In Todd, we have not only hired a young and sitting head coach, but one with a history of success on the field and in hiring top-notch assistant coaches."

Graham's arrival at Arizona State is their answer to recent Pac-12 additions like Mike Leach at Washington State and Rich Rodriguez at in-state rival Arizona. But as Graham promised to move the ball down the field in his first day as head coach, he used the same motto he relied on when introducing himself to Pittsburgh fans.

 "Obviously, our offense is going to be high octane, it's going to be quick-strike, explosive," said Graham, 49-29 in six years as head coach. "Our whole deal is about explosive plays. I like to see the ball thrown down the field."

That "high-octane" phrase was one Graham pounded so hard into the mind of Pittsburgh fans, he had it plastered on the newly redesigned website for "high-octane Pitt football." Needless to say, the Panthers' fans and administration are not pleased that Graham did not stick around to deliver on his high-octane promises.  Players from the current Pittsburgh roster were furious, and took to Twitter to vent their frustrations through social media.  The administration showed their disappointment in a more traditional manner with a press release.

 "Obviously this is not the way we would have expected Mr. Graham to handle any possible departure," Pitt executive vice chancellor and general counsel Jerry Cochran said. "Beyond normal expectations with respect to professional conduct, he has failed to comply with the terms of his contract."

The only "high-octane" aspect of Graham's offense this season was watching quarterback Tino Sunseri run for his life as the Panthers allowed an FBS-high 57 sacks during the regular season. Pittsburgh ranked in the bottom half of the Big East in passing and scoring offense. The one offensive highlight from the Panthers' first season under Graham was the explosion of running back Ray Graham, who averaged over 130 yards per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The 6-6 Panthers will be coached by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson against SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 7.  Click here to check out the latest on the Panthers and Mustangs at the BBVA Compass Bowl Pregame

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Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:21 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Can't say I blame Graham for taking the ASU job, much more attractive. But what in the hell is ASU hiring Graham for?? He proved nothing at pitt, showed himself to be a bit of an egotist and liked to spread the blame everywhere but in his own backyard throwing players like Sunseri under the bus, and has displayed no loyalty whatsoever in his career, especially putting in only one year at pitt. Very strange hire. Pitt is probably better off. If they were smart they would do what PSU does not have the balls to do and hire Bradley.

Since: Feb 23, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:19 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Only one year at Pitt and he left?  I bet he doesn't get the same grief Lane Kiffin got for leaving Tenn after one year.
And, Lane went to USC, a real football program.

Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:55 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

What I'm wondering, is how did a coach in his first year of a contract get on ASU's list anyway? Was Todd Graham already looking, or are all college coaches always looking. Goodluck to ASU with the a guy that was way down your list anyway. And with the way he left Pitt, I'm sure he'll do again once Louisiana-Lafeyette starts calling. He probably has family there too and it's a place he always dreamed of coaching. Supposedly just yesterday he was at a Pitt lucheon telling recruits your only good as your word and to stand for what is right. I feel sorry for Pitt, no matter what some of these commentors say, it's a great university.

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:54 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Pitt is better off without him and should take a look at who hired him.    Peterson..........

Since: Jun 2, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:44 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

I can care less what team Graham coaches. If I'm ASU I would be concerned just in the manner that Graham has handled himself from the time he was at Pittsburgh until right now. I believe every PAC 10 coach who is against him in recruiting will point out his history.

Pitt is in trouble here. They need stability now more than ever. The truth is they need a personality like Wannstadt. A guy from Pittsburgh that would consider this a great job. I'm not sure if Russ Grimm would be interested but he is a Pitt guy and has been passed up at the NFL level many times.

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:37 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

My opinion would be that PITT got the better of this deal.  If Graham's heart is not with PITT after the first year, he sure doesn't need to be hanging around.  Also, I would say that this guy would probably owe some buyout money to PITT since he left after one year. So much for a coach that gets fired after his second, third or 4th year, when Graham ups and packs his bags after one. Not a very good display of loyalty in the head coaching fraternity, when these types of situations come up after only a year.  But, again I think PITT got the betterment of the situation with this guy out of the picture.  PITT is a fine school and they will get a good head football coach ! 

Since: Nov 8, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Starting to sound like Tennessee fans hating on Lane Kiffin after they got dumped.  Sour grapes says I.

Since: Jul 14, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:24 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

Ok you just accepted a JOB and someone else wants to pay you more in a better city with better weather after a year !? hmmmm Id leave too.

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:23 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

well said and BTW, Toledo's new head coach, the former offensive C. is a far better coach than Graham.  Toledo has a real no-huddle and has been scoring 45-60 points a game.  It's tough luck for Pitt, I hope they can find someone soon.  Maybe Bradley from Penn State, or Joe Pa's son?

Since: May 20, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:22 pm

Todd Graham leaving Pittsburgh for Arizona State

I don't know much about Todd Graham but just learning about his willingness to leave a college head coaching job after one season is enough. This is what we refer to as a teaching moment for the players he leaves behind at Pitt. This actually seems worse than the coach who left Tennessee for USC a few years ago. His reputation as a scumbag preceded him but this move comes out of the blue. 

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