Arizona State Football: Why Todd Graham Will Have More Success Than Erickson
In the midst of a five-game losing streak in the 2011 season, Arizona State football fired head coach Dennis Erickson. Erickson did not win a bowl game at ASU and finished with a record above .500 only once.
Then ASU botched the coaching search. It took weeks to find a replacement, making fans upset with the process, and may have led to the firing of athletic director Lisa Love.
The school had to hire a search firm to find a coach. But in all, the firm made a solid hire, and Todd Graham will have more success than Erickson at ASU.
Here are four reasons why.
Is his short tenure as ASU football coach, Todd Graham has emphasized being a more disciplined football team.
The Sun Devils finished last in the FBS last season in penalty yardage per game. Dennis Erickson didn't hold his players accountable for mistakes they made on the field.
In particular, troubled linebacker Vontaze Burfict led to the demise of the football team. But under Graham, having a poor attitude won't fly with the coach and committing a penalty on the field will result in punishments.
Anyone that has heard Todd Graham speak notices his passion for the game of football. Graham speaks with a slight Texan dialect and persuades listeners.
The national media pounded Graham for "job-hopping," but he is fully devoted and passionate about his profession.
Graham is a leader who preaches fundamental values that the team can adopt.
How will this help on the football field? Graham's passion should help in the recruiting game and will especially win over the parents of these recruits.
Parents want their son to play for someone who will not only develop them as football players, but also as young men.
Relations with the ASU Community
Dennis Erickson failed to connect with the ASU fan base during his tenure and the Sun Devils were notoriously poor in attendance for most of his reign.
The exception was last season, when expectations were sky-high and the team displayed new flashy uniforms.
Graham has gotten into the community during the offseason and spoken to various different groups of ASU supporters. He is returning the team to Camp Tontozona, collecting nearly $150,000 from boosters during that time.
Anyone who went to spring practice at ASU noticed a fast, up-tempo pace that tested the players' conditioning.
The conditioning under Todd Graham is much tougher than under Erickson. Notably, Vontaze Burfict, the key to ASU's 2011 season, was overweight and didn't have the speed necessary to be a Pac-12 linebacker.
ASU is going to play at a fast tempo in the 2012 season and the stringent conditioning will help the players be ready for it. Graham wants to run 80 plays per game and play at a speed similar to Oregon.
Playing fast negatively affects the defense and ASU will take advantage making the opposing defenses panting and tired.