From the moment he was introduced as Arizona State University’s head football coach on December 14, 2011, Todd Graham made it clear he was a visionary. A throwback. A teacher who truly believes in the virtues of hard work, dedication and giving back.
He had a plan to infuse the program with a culture that was about winning in all facets of a student-athlete’s life. Graham referred to it simply as, ‘The Sun Devil Way.’
Graham, the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, concluded his sixth season at the helm of the Arizona State University football program. Under his leadership, Sun Devil football has reached levels of success not seen in more than 30 years.
The Sun Devils won 46 games in six seasons at ASU – the most for a six-year span in Tempe since winning 46 from 1982-87. Graham is one of just three coaches (Frank Kush and Darryl Rogers) to win at least 30 games in their first four seasons at ASU. The 46 wins are third for any head coach in history (behind Kush and Bruce Snyder).
He became the only ASU head coach to be bowl eligible in each of his first four seasons with the program and led ASU to bowl eligibility in five of six seasons – second-most at ASU behind Kush’s seven Bowl Games.
Graham successfully instilled a culture of discipline during his tenure in the Valley of the Sun, guiding ASU to an average of just 37.4 penalty yards per game since the 2012 campaign. That mark was good for the fourth-lowest total in the country behind only Navy (27.3), Georgia Tech (36.7) and Army (37.1). The Sun Devils finished 19th or better in fewest penalty yards per game in five of six seasons under Graham, and ranked no worse than 52nd during his time as a head coach in Tempe.
Since Graham arrived in Tempe, ASU has received 45-All-Pac-12 Conference recognitions, and 50 All-Conference academic honors, solidifying a culture of winning on and off the field. Sixty-five student athletes earned Scholar Baller recognition for the 2016-17 academic year and 431 football scholar athletes have been named Scholar Ballers in eight semesters under Graham. Thirty-three members on the roster have a cumulative GPA over 3.00.
Additionally, the team as a whole has posted over a 3.00 Team GPA for the first time in program history as of summer school classes entering the 2017-18 academic year.
In 2015, ASU became the first school to have consecutive winners – quarterback Taylor Kelly in 2014 and quarterback Mike Bercovici in 2015 – of the Pac-12’s Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, awarded to senior student-athletes that are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline.
Graham’s resolute commitment to help Sun Devil football be the best can also be seen in the recent reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium, a project which Graham has invested in both figuratively and literally. In September 2014, Graham and his wife Penni, and Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson and his wife Buffie, each gave $500,000 in personal funds to the Sun Devil Athletics Momentum fundraising campaign. The three phases of the $256 -million project are set to be finished in 2018.
Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas and after graduating in 1983, he played for East Central University in Ada, Okla., where he was a two-time NAIA All-American defensive back.
Born Dec. 5 1964, Graham earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from East Central University. He and his wife, Penni, have six children: Bo, Natalie, Hank, Haylee, Dakota and Michael Todd Jr.
Graham will conclude his final season with ASU at the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 29. He will be succeeded by former NFL coach Herm Edwards.