I feel bad for a fair amount of Arizona State fans. They are in a tough spot. It seems more than a few are less than enamored with the hiring of Todd Graham and how Graham bolted Pitt. But here’s the thing. ASU is their school. It’s their team. They can’t really root for Graham to fail. They want their team to win. Graham is the guy that is now in charge of making it happen. He’s their guy. Now they have to talk themselves into it. And the majority will.
They will swallow the spin that Graham really does want to be in Arizona. That he is a good person who loves his family, players and god. That it is his “dream job.” Just as Rice and Tulsa were. That it really was just a timing conflict that had him not face the players. Or that he was stopped by Pitt from meeting with them. That the Graham’s really were never truly happy in Pittsburgh.
Graham wouldn’t go into details but said his family had a terrible time in Pittsburgh. And maybe Graham’s personality and high-octane salesmanship will make him the perfect solution for the complex competitive landscape in Tempe.
Details can be difficult when you are making **** up. Or in the alternative, lying — both Todd and Penni Graham — the entire time. Your choice, which way to go.
Not that Todd Graham is spineless and never willing to face people directly when he is going to betray them.
Tuesday night after he got off the phone with Steve Pederson, and was told he didn’t have permission to talk to Arizona State, he then refused to take Pederson – or anyone from Pitt’s – phone calls. Pederson was in North Carolina at some ACC meetings so, after hours of silence, he had one of Pitt’s senior administrators go to Graham’s house to see if he could at least talk to him and find out what was happening.
The administrator first went to the football complex, it was a ghost town, then went to Graham’s house out in Nevillewood. He knocked on the door, then rang the doorbell and saw Graham in the front room on the phone. Graham finally answered the door and said “what are you doing here”.
The administrator said “Todd, can we talk for a minute, we need to know what is going on, you need to talk to me.” Graham said “I don’t have to talk to anybody.”
The administrator then repeated “Todd, we need to talk.” Graham then snapped “I don’t have to talk to you, get off my porch.” and then slammed the door in his face. This is a guy who had a great relationship with Graham from a school that had laid out the red carpet to make Graham’s existence here as successful as possible.
No ASU fans will do whatever they can to rationalize it. They will just chalk it up to the nature of college football these days. Any excuse, as long as he wins.
We, however, don’t have that problem any longer.
As I said before, having watched enough of these coaching carousel things for so many other schools. Seeing so many others, I found that this one blew me away. That it may actually have been the worst. Most deceptive, creepy, biggest asshole move ever. “But, hey,” as I try to inject a little reason into things, “Maybe I’m just too close to it. This is Pitt. My school. Maybe I’m being a bit myopic. There may well have been someone who did it worse.”
Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com:
When compared to Graham, Petrino seems to have the loyalty of Lassie and Tressel seems to have the rectitude of Honest Abe Lincoln.
Graham is nothing more than a slithery used-car salesman, telling recruits and boosters what they want to hear so he’ll ultimately get what he needs to pad his résumé for a better job.
Forget the Backyard Brawl. They’ll have the Used Car Lot Brawl at Arizona State.
Graham even makes Kim Kardashian seem committed.
And Pat Forde at Yahoo!:
At Pitt, Graham worked his usual confidence game. He trotted out the same talismans and same slogans he used at his previous stops — there was a rock, and a rope, and a lot of talk about togetherness and commitment and team. He could always sell it to his audience, whether it was players, fans or media.
“The 80th time you heard the speech was just as interesting as the first,” said the Rice source. “But then when you hear it at another school and he’s just changing the names from Team A to Team B, you start to figure it out.”
You start to figure out that Todd Graham is all about himself. Not all about the team he’s coaching.
By now, Graham’s reputation has taken enough hits that Arizona State may have its Bobby Petrino — a guy who couldn’t make another abrupt job change even if he wanted to. So this may work out for the Sun Devils.
That was the amazing thing about that press conference at ASU yesterday. It was literally the same spiel from his opening at Pitt. Which is part of why he really effed up with bolting this soon. It was still fresh for people to recall. It was easy to compare — even for the Arizona media.
Graham started his media blitz today in Tempe. He’s got some work ahead of him. There’s outrage from some Pitt fans that the Arizona media isn’t going after him directly. Why in the press conference and radio interviews harder questions weren’t asked?
There’s an easy answer for that. This isn’t the NFL. Where there are rules about media and access. In college athletics, schools can and do revoke privileges (see, Steve Spurrier). Fans of the school are much more protective and prone to outrage at local “haters.” It means the media has to tread a little more carefully. Not set out an immediate adverse relationship.
Just before the insanity went down, I was finally going to get around to a story on how Todd Graham acknowledges reading the stories and even blogs and tweets (well, has it relayed to him by his wife). It struck me as refreshingly honest, since most coaches claim to never read the paper, never hear the complaints. Odds are, though, that even if true he is only reading the stuff in national media and Arizona after Tuesday.
The one thing that has me so fascinated is the pathology of Graham. That he is literally incapable of facing the people he is betraying. You would think such a piece of scum would be able to handle that with the same lies and facade. Instead, he flat out walls them off. Not returning phone calls. Not talking directly even when someone tries to see him. Not facing his players. You could see his jaw tighten when he was asked at the press conference about the way he informed the Pitt players. He did not want to even talk about it, except in terms of how hard it was for him.
“That is very hurtful. I’ve never had to endure that, and I really regret that. I really regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to (meet with the players).”
Not them. Him. Nothing about how they must have felt. Only regrets for how he feels about it. And more likely, regrets about how it makes him look.
Well, dark as things may be. He isn’t Pitt’s problem any longer. Hopefully I won’t have to write any more about him, until he has to cut the check for his buyout — or Pitt sues his ass.