Arizona State is not extending football coach Todd Graham’s contract by one year as it has done annually in the past, leaving Graham under contract for less than five years for the first time since his arrival.
ASU football coach Todd Graham didn’t comment after his contract wasn’t extended, which tells us everything we need to know: He’s aware that this isn’t time for talk; he has to win.
Graham has done some good things with back-to-back 10-win seasons and a Pac 12 title game appearance, but ultimately he’s been more potential than payoff since he arrived in Tempe six years ago.
Consider the last two seasons:
Last year, the Sun Devils won their first four games and five of their first six.
Everybody’s watching. Excitement is building.
But then they fall apart, dropping six in a row, including a 56-35 loss to Arizona that Graham, himself, called “embarrassing” and “the worst performance we’ve had since we’ve been here.”
It was similar in 2015. The Sun Devils won four of their first six games, and then right when they had everyone’s attention, they dropped three in a row, including that 61-55 triple-overtime loss to Oregon in a game that was featured on ESPN.
It’s not like Graham is a lame duck. He’s got four years left on his deal, but athletic director Ray Anderson is sending a clear signal that he and fans expect more.
Here’s where he needs to improve:
Recruiting: Don’t lose Arizona talent to any schools in California or Washington – or Michigan State. A common refrain from fans in Tempe is: When Graham had Dennis Erickson’s guys, he was winning.
Defense: Graham came to town known as a good defensive coach. Last year, the Sun Devils gave up 40 points or more nine times.
If he does this, he’ll never have to hear me compare him to Michigan J. Frog. The amphibious Warner Bros. cartoon could sing and dance with a top hat and cane when nobody was looking, but as soon as anybody watched would just sit there and croak.
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