Todd Graham Says He’ll Be at Arizona State Unless He’s Fired or Retired

December 19, 2011 – 9:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

In 2006, Todd Graham spent exactly one year as the head coach at Rice before moving on to Tulsa. Graham spent a few years there and was the head coach at Pitt this past season. Once again, after just one year, he’s on the move again, this time heading to Arizona State after texting his Panthers players that he was leaving.

It’s hard for folks around the Arizona State program not to wonder if this is just his next short stop on the coaching ladder, but Graham says that’s not the case. He states his side of things in this interview and tells people that this is a destination job, one that he won’t leave unless he’s fired or retired.

Todd Graham joined KTAR in Phoenix with Doug and Wolf to discuss his side of things on his departure from Pitt, why he left there, how he changed the environment in one season there, not being the first choice of Arizona State, his coaching strengths, those questioning his character publicly and how long he plans on being at Arizona State.

What’s your side of the story with how you left things at Pitt?:

“Obviously the timing on these things are very, very difficult. From the time you’re offered a job to when you accept it is very rapid. It was probably a 12-hour period from when I was offered the job to the time I had to be on a plane leaving. … It didn’t allow for me to have a chance to call a meeting, to have a meeting with the players. I used the only means I had at my disposal. I certainly didn’t want those guys to find out on the news. … It makes you sick to your stomach, because it’s not the way you want to do things.”

Why did you leave Pitt?:

“I had other people call me about jobs around the country and I didn’t even blink at them. This is a place where my wife’s mother and father is. We come every year to vacation here. … It was a dream destination for us. … It was really more of a family deal.”

Did you feel like the environment had changed at Pitt during your one season?:

“I think so. I think we made great progress. … I think they had 26 arrests the year before I got there and we had zero. So, I think we made a lot of progress with the young men. I’m very, very proud of that growth. … Obviously you don’t ever want to be in a situation where you’re only at a place one year. At the end of the day, it was gut-wrenching to make that decision, but it was one that was the best for my family.”

Did you care how Arizona State handled its search, seemingly going after other candidates before arriving at your hiring?:

“Oh no. If you’re asking me about being the first choice, I wasn’t my wife’s first choice. But I’m glad that I was the one that ended up with it.”

What are you strengths?:

“My whole deal, my strengths, are building relationships with coaches and players. That’s my whole foundation of what we do. I think that’s the key to building discipline. I want guys that are great teachers. … I don’t believe there’s good and bad people, it’s what we choose to bring out in each other.”

You talk about being a man of character and being genuine, but given recent reports, the media is saying the opposite. How do you address that?:

“I would point to the players and things that I’ve done as a football coach. I’m extremely proud of the things we’ve accomplished on the field and off the field. I can tell you that obviously you never want to be put in a situation like that and it was tough. I’m human. I made the best decision for my family. … I know the people that know me know what I’m all about and all’s I can do is work hard to prove that and work hard to earn people’s respect and trust.”

If you win, how long will you be at Arizona State?:

“You can say, ‘Look at his track record. He was at Rice one year.’ If I describe the circumstances from which I left there and, really, if everybody knew all the circumstances that I just left, but I’m not going to go into that. … You look around the country, they’re firing coaches after two years and it’s unfair. But I can tell you this, that I come here because I think this is a destination. It’s where my wife and family wanted to be. … I’ll prove that I’m going to be here. Unless I’m fired or retired, I plan on being here.”

Listen to Todd Graham on KTAR in Phoenix here

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  1. 17 Responses to “Todd Graham Says He’ll Be at Arizona State Unless He’s Fired or Retired”

  2. todd graham is unproven as a football coach. pitt is fortunate to have got rid of him as a coach.very arrogant.. doesn’t accept responsibility for losses on the field .crucified pitt qb sunseri in front of everyone,,\\.. good luck with your new coach..better get used to losing..lousiest coach pitt ever had

    By dan maxwell on Dec 19, 2011

  3. Todd Graham is a quitter and a crafty salesman. Ever hear the phrase overpromise and underdeliver? That should be the statement next to his name. He didn’t have a conversation with the administration and he sent a text message to the players……Complete coward.

    By Yinzer7 on Dec 19, 2011

  4. Graham says “I think they had 26 arrests before I got there…” he should check his facts. Also, NONE, ABSOLUTELY NONE, of the Pitt players respect him now. He even forced a change to where the Pitt players ate – instead of eating in the same cafeteria at the UPMC Sports Complex, which Pitt also shares with the Steelers, he dictated that Pitt have its own cafeteria – even though the players ate at different times. Ask any of the Steelers personnel – they are glad to see Graham gone! He’s a jerk, a liar, and a quitter!

    By Ron on Dec 19, 2011

  5. wow..i googled that and read it was true. how does anyone in the football industry think they are too good for Steelers? Easily the most successful franchise ever in the sport? You would think he would at least want to rub elbows with a guy like Dick Lebeau, if he fancies himself a ‘defensive coach’.

    By esteban on Dec 19, 2011

  6. How can a guy who was flown out to Arizona in a private jet not have time to talk to his players. How about this, “Hey ASU, give me a couple of hours to talk to my kids. Would you mind waiting?”. I think ASU would have waited. He is a devious liar and mercenary.

    By Gerry on Dec 19, 2011

  7. “I think they had 26 arrests the year before I got there and we had zero.”

    1. Pitt had 4 arrests the previous year(not good but not quite 26)

    2. How do you forget that the only QB on your roster that had the potential to run this gimmick offense, got arrested and you had to suspend him Todd? Obviously you don’t forget, but lying comes natural.

    By pete on Dec 19, 2011

  8. Hmmm, sounds like we have alot of angry Panthers here on this board. I dont understand why you all bother if you disliked him as much as you write. When we fired Koeter we didnt bother to post all over the blogs of his next job, it was GOOD RIDDEN!! You had him, we have him now. He is our coach and it is time for the Devils to support him. He didnt leave for a raise, e left because it was an ideal situation to coach in a place he considered home. who wouldnt do that? especially if it was for a better and bigger program. Let’s face it, the Big Least as far from the likes of the PAC-12. Read the interview, I am satisfied, cant wait to see what happens next year.

    By Mario on Dec 19, 2011

  9. Mario, you should be excited and happy about the potential your program has with TG. But in a few years, don’t get mad at us when we say, “We told you so!”

    By JohnnyGee on Dec 19, 2011

  10. Todd Graham lost all my respect when he lied about staying at Pitt for the rest of his career.

    By grahamcracker on Dec 19, 2011

  11. Wow… Although Pitt would love to see this debacle happen to WVU… I would not wish this snake oil salesman on any Program!

    By Sam WVU on Dec 20, 2011

  12. I agree with Mario. If Pitt hated him so much why are they all so angry that he left? You only hated him because he left, you probably loved him when he was there. Seriously, even if Graham comes in and is successful and leaves to go somewhere bigger and better I’m not going to fault the guy for it. We live in a selfish society, everyone only looks after themselves so why can’t a football coach do the same? Don’t be so bitter Pitt fans. I welcome Graham to ASU and as long as he can have a better record than U of A and give us a chance to win the Rose Bowl, I don’t care what he’s done.

    By Chris on Dec 20, 2011

  13. No, we’re all happy he is gone. It is the manner in which he left and the lies he continues to spew about our team that has us angry. He under performed big time. He wasted a whole season installing “his system” with a QB that did not fit the system. Then he bolts off without even having the decency to tell his players. You know, the ones he built a relationship with.

    Pitt has had many bad football coaches. Pitt has had a few good coaches leave. You will see nobody trashing Jackie Sherrill or Mike Gottfried or Foge Fazio the way Todd Graham is getting it. It is about the way he left and the display of his true character that has enraged the fans in Pittsburgh. Don’t worry, the players are happy he is gone as well. And ASU will be happy in a few years if you are fortunate enough to be able to get rid of him.

    By USN_Panther on Dec 20, 2011

  14. And Chris, one more thing. ASU may consider 6 and 6 to be a successful season. So if Todd Graham reaches the mountain top of 6 and 6 and leaves I am sure you will wish him well.

    Pitt considers 6 and 6 to be a significant underachievement.

    By USN_Panther on Dec 20, 2011


    Looks like to me he did have an arrest

    By 52again on Dec 20, 2011

  16. I can’t stand Pitt (as a WVU fan)…but I’d have to agree with the Panther fans on here. The guy is a toolbag. The only thing ASU can feel good about with the hire is that an even bigger toolbag is now in Tucson. Problem is…the Tucson toolbag can actually coach.

    By Pittswallows on Dec 20, 2011

  17. I am not a fan of Pitt or of ASU, so I don’t bleed either of their colors. Here are the facts, Todd Graham has proven to be a liar. He has proven that he doesn’t care about his players. He has said the same things at each of his stops, whether or not they have come true. He has proven this consistently. He is a mercenary, plain and simple.

    ASU created a train wreck of this hire. They didn’t think twice about asking for the consent of Pitt to talk to Graham. They were desperate, this was a last minute choice. The way they did this was truly lacking in class. To say they hired a coach that will care about the players at ASU hold NO weight. He was the only guy that would ditch everything the was trying to build at Pitt to come to ASU. My guess? ASU will be in the same place in five years, or sooner. This bumbling squad of idiots, led by Lisa Love deserve what they get.

    By DesertReader on Dec 20, 2011

  18. I’m not a Pitt fan (WVU) but have to say I feel sorry for the Pitt players the way their HC deserted them. He states he did not have an opportunity to meet with them, but the team had a 6:30 am workout the day he left and he elected not to come. I understand a day or two before he left he addressed a group of local HS coaches and players and talked about commitment and integrity and his program and in a blink of an eye he’s gone. Sounds like he got a phone interview and then he’s packing his bags. Good luck ASU with all of his high Octane, get in the left lane with the pedal down BS. I had to chuckle everytime I heard a commercial for Qdobas “their Mexican food is as hot as the Pitt high octane offense”. That one had a really short run time. Go eers!

    By PGH'eer on Dec 20, 2011

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