TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Washington State moved swiftly to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach just a day after firing Paul Wulff late last November, the move was widely praised as a bold and smart hire. Leach was just the high-profile offensive genius to revitalize the Cougars, who had become perennial losers.
When Arizona State finally concluded its prolonged search and hired Todd Graham away from Pittsburgh after one season on the job in mid-December, the choice was widely lambasted. ASU had hired a job hopper with little loyalty to his program or the players he coached.
Although the final judgment likely won't be known for years, the tone has changed markedly for the two programs as they prepare to meet with the 2012 season winding down.
Graham has put in place a culture of discipline, accountability and support that from early on has drawn praise from ASU fans accustomed to free-and-loose teams consistently underachieving. And while the Sun Devils' 5-5 record is not ...