I can’t say that I’ve ever had a girl break up with me via text message, but I imagine that’s what the Pitt Panthers feel like this week when they received a text message that Todd Graham was leaving them to go coach Arizona State. It was a shock to a group of players that endured a coaching change — when Graham was hired — less than a year earlier.
Pitt wide receiver Cam Saddler, one of the team’s leaders, spoke out on the situation, describing how Graham spoke often of his money and the shock that the players were experiencing. At the mention of Graham possibly returning to meet with the team after leaving so hastily, Saddle said Graham better not dare come back.
Cam Saddler joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on The Morning Show to discuss Graham not being genuine, the shock of the coaching change, what it will take to trust the next guy, talking to incoming recruits, the team coming together in a tough time, Graham talking about his money and what he would think if Graham wanted to come back and meet with the team.
When did you start to see this guy as not genuine?:
“I guess I got bamboozled. It just started to unravel slowly but surely, probably the first couple months he was there in the offseason. … Everybody wants to impress the new coach. But after a while, you cannot repeat the same stuff over and over. You’ve got to actually show us something.”
Have you learned more in the past 24 hours in the locker room or in the past four years in the classroom?:
“The last 24 hours, man. This has been rough, man. This is happening again? The first time it happened last year, we were all in shock, like no way this is going down. … Then, it’s happening now. … We’re kind of just like, again? How’s this happening again? We know what to expect, what we’re getting ourselves into, and it’s like, ‘Why us?’”
What do you think it’ll take for you to trust the next guy?:
“We don’t nobody to tell us nothing. We want somebody to show us. We’re tired of hearing speeches of how everything’s going to be OK and everything’s going to get better. … Show us. We’re done talking. I don’t want no one coming in here and talking to us, trying to sell us.”
You’ve been known as a guy who helped guys decide to come here. What do you say now?:
“I’m going to do some justice on this class, I promise. I think people are a little bit too worried about recruiting. I think, as a team, we’ll handle that. I talked to a couple recruits yesterday and I just wanted to tell the guys, ‘You’re coming to join the team.’”
Do you think you guys have come together as a team because of this?:
“Definitely. This is making us closer and closer. Everyone’s texting everybody and calling everybody just so we can all be on the same page. This situation is wild man. This doesn’t happen every day. … You don’t switch bosses this often. … We’ve got each other, though. I know it’s kind of cliche to say, but who else do you have?”
Give us an example of when Graham spoke about his money:
“He told us at a team meeting that … ‘I’ll lose game with guys with integrity. It doesn’t matter to me if I get fired. I make $2 million a year, I can move to the Caribbean and me and my wife can be better off for the rest of our lives.’ Like, what kind of nonsense is that? I don’t care about that. You’re my coach. I understand that; you get paid lots of money. … You have a nice haircut and all, but why would you tell us that you and your wife would be OK.”
More on the situation:
“I had to let them know that, I understand this is a business, but this is personal. This hurt. It was a business last year, but now this is personal, man. We’re young men, and we deserve the same respect that everyone else deserves.”
Todd Graham said he would like to come back and meet with you guys. What do you think about that?:
“No, no, no. He better not dare try to come over here. He better not dare. I mean that with a passion. When the situation first happened, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I sat down with a couple guys and told them if the plan was for Coach Graham to coach us in the bowl game, we are not going to play.”