The desert heat can be stifling at times. Believe when I tell you that. However, when our job pressure is the same as the outside temperature things can get down right nasty. Welcome to Todd Graham’s current state of life.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are coming off of two consecutive seasons where the expectations have not met the actual results. The fans are aware of this, the media is aware, and Todd Graham is certainly aware of this predicament. The job security with Todd Graham is under a lot of scrutiny right now in Tempe. The noise to fire Coach Graham gets louder with every loss.
Todd Graham knows his team has to perform well or he will be jobless. For some fans, that would be the end result that they are looking for. The Sun Devil faithful want a winner yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Will things turnaround in 2017? It doesn’t appear that way.
With last Saturday’s loss to San Diego State, it drove home the perception that Arizona State isn’t ready for primetime yet. Maybe not at all. When you schedule a team like San Diego State you expect to win the game. You do. That’s why you schedule teams like that if you are in a Power 5 Conference.
What has Graham really accomplished in his tenure?
He did get the team to the Pac-12 Championship game in 2013 where the Stanford Cardinal beat them handily 38-14. That game happened on their home field. Just for a little context.
Inside their team meeting room there is a saying about playing for National Championships, the Pac-12 Championship, and The Rose Bowl. With the exception of the above mentioned Pac-12 Championship game, the Sun Devils have not come close to anything of the sort.
The Sun Devils if anything under Graham have underperformed. The first three years of his reign, he did win 28 games. I will point out that many of those kids especially in the first two years were brought in by Dennis Erickson.
Say what you want about Coach Erickson and you can say plenty, he knew how to recruit talented ball players. Those players may have been a bit undisciplined, but the talent was there. To me, Coach Graham was the beneficiary of this in house talent when he showed up.
Since then, the Devils have missed out on the recruiting, have played down to their competition, and have had an unstable coaching staff.
D.J. Foster type of players are not walking through the door at ASU. The closest one that has made an immediate impact is N’Keal Harry. A local kid who decided to stay home. Other home grown Arizona high school talent took their talents elsewhere.
USC, Notre Dame, UCLA, and even Oregon State are taking talented kids out of the state. Coach Graham isn’t closing deal on these kids that leave Arizona.
How good would Christian Kirk look in Sun Devils colors?
Yeah, I know.
Playing down to the competition has been a big issue for me. Cal-Poly, San Diego State, UTSA, , New Mexico State, and even their rival Arizona have beat the Sun Devils when it shouldn’t have been close. it should have been a Sun Devil blowout from the opening whistle.
The Sun Devils went to Oregon State a couple years ago and it was cold. It was 28 degrees at kickoff of a night game. ASU was ranked number six in the country and the Beavers were fighting for pride. Many teams have rolled into Corvallis rolling pretty well and have come out of Corvallis with a loss. That’s exactly what happened. The Sun Devils go down 35-27, when they should have won going away.
Now fast forward to last Saturday night. Rashaad Perry of San Diego State went off on the Sun Devils. Perry was responsible for 353 all-purpose yards and scored three different ways. 216 of those yards were on the ground. I thought this new defensive coordinator was supposed to stop on these defensive leaks.
Now, the Sun Devils are 1-1 and have a date with the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock. To say that Sun Devil fans have any confidence in their team winning this game would be a bit of a stretch.
After the Texas Tech game, it goes Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Utah, and USC. Where are the wins going to come from?
In the end, the Coach Graham has to come up with some kind of magic formula or he’s done.