What started as a highly controversial hire by new Vice President of Athletics Steve Patterson when Graham hastily left Pitt after just one season with the Panthers to take over for the departed Dennis Erickson has turned into a windfall of praise as Graham has re-established some of the tradition many close to the program felt was lost under Erickson.
Whether re-connecting with former players or bringing back Camp Tontozona, he has re-energized a program and fan base in dire need of some positive energy.
“I haven’t been this excited about Sun Devil football in a long, long time,” ASU legend and College Football Hall of Famer Danny White told Brad Cesmat Monday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “The big change has been in the philosophy of the head coach and the acceptance of the athletic director in the community.”
Graham and his new-look staff approached spring workouts with a fast-paced, hands-on style which completely contradicted Erickson’s laid back, much softer approach with the players. He believes the Devils aren’t where they need to be, but progress made which is important for a program in transition.
“It’s my belief and I think the belief of most of the alumni,” White explained to Cesmat. “It’s been too soft of a program and players have gotten away with too much on and off the field. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with [Graham] one-on-one. This is not a show. This is really who he is.”
Besides his dealings within the program with past and present players, Graham has been a regular voice and face in the community headlining speaking engagements and appearing on numerous local and national media outlets attempting to spread the word of ASU’s revamped program and the direction it’s headed.
For now the handshakes and interviews will continue until the Devils report for practice with a return trip to Camp T. August 14-18.
ASU opens their season against NAU on August 30th at Sun Devil Stadium.