Best Head Coach (2013)

Todd Graham, ASU Football

The rap on Todd Graham is that he's a disloyal climber. But this will be his second season as Arizona State University's football coach, and we have hope that he'll stick it out and take the Sun Devils to postseason glory for seasons to come. Since we've been in Phoenix, ASU's been mediocre to bad, with a couple of mediocre-to-bad head coaches. Graham's 8-5 campaign in 2012 was a promising beginning, the first winning season for the team since 2007. And it got them an actual bowl bid, albeit the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (huh?) in San Francisco, which ASU won 62-28 over, um, little ol' Navy. It'll be a challenge to turn Tempe U into a football power, but Graham is used to challenges. He took doormat Rice University in Texas to a 7-6 season, including a minor bowl game, in his first and only year there in 2006 (the team had gone 1-10 the season before). Despite a contract extension at Rice, he bolted (to much hatred from Rice alumni and students) for the University of Tulsa, where he amassed a 36-17 record over four seasons. Next stop: the University of Pittsburgh and one 6-6 season, after which he again scrammed, this time to ASU. When he announced his departure, shocked Pitt players felt betrayed, with one saying, "Everything he's told us has been a lie."

Energizer Bunny Graham's sketchy past aside, he put a fast offense and a hugely aggressive defense on the field last year, averaging a milestone nine tackles for losing yardage a game. Hey, ASU came within two points of winning the Pac-12 South. And imagine how much better things could get if (miracle of miracles!) Todd gives it, say, five seasons in Tempe (one more than his successful stint at Tulsa). Graham ambition could turn into a good thing for ASU — if he channels it to his football team. Makes them reach out for more, as he's done during his coaching career. We're thinking Rose Bowl this season and national championship down the line. Don't disappear on us, Graham. We'll hunt you down if you do.


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