Arizona State Football: 5 Reasons Todd Graham Will Right the Ship
Going into every season for what seems like forever, there has been excitement surrounding the Sun Devils program. Every year is supposed to be the year where ASU makes the leap from good to great.
Despite the constant hype and preseason buzz, the Sun Devils are chronic underachievers. Since they went 10-3 in 2007 and fell to the Texas Longhorns in the Fiesta Bowl, the Sun Devils have failed to finish with more than six wins.
Todd Graham has a chance to erase that culture of underachieving and finally bring a realization of Arizona State's potential to Tempe.
Here are five reasons why I think he will.
The Sun Devils weren't consistent in many areas during Dennis Erickson's tenure. The one area they have been consistent in is a lack of discipline.
According to Doug Haller of AZCentral.com, "over the last four years, the Sun Devils finished 108th or worse among 120 FBS teams in penalty yards per game, twice finishing last."
Graham comes to ASU's program committed to increasing discipline. Its hard for a team to win when they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot, and Graham knows that.
Haller also reports that discipline is one of 13 duties ascribed to Graham in his contract. Discipline was not a duty include in Erickson's contract.
If Graham can bring discipline to his team off the field, it will improve their performance on the field.
Connecting with the Community
Todd Graham is committed to getting the community more involved with Sun Devils football. According to George Schroeder of Sports Illustrated, Graham made 111 public appearances in his first 107 days on the job.
Graham has done everything from having lunch on campus with Arizona State students to hosting his own weekly radio show, The High Octane Hour from the Thirsty Lion Pub in Tempe.
Clearly, Graham understands the importance of connecting with the community and increasing interest in Sun Devil football.
Graham's goal is to shake hands with 74,000 Sun Devil fans before kickoff on September 1. Regardless of whether he accomplishes that goal or not, he understands the importance of marketing the program, and that is big.
Next-Level Marketing Ideas
As I said in the last slide, Todd Graham understands the importance of marketing the Sun Devil brand.
Aside from all the hands he plans on shaking, Graham also wants to implement next-level marketing ideas that will put the Sun Devils more in the public eye and help out recruiting.
George Schroeder from Sports Illustrated reports that Graham will have at least one assistant coach mic'd up for every practice, and Graham himself will be mic'd for every game.
Some clips from practice and some mic'd moments will go onto the Sun Devils website, and during spring ball, Graham or an assistant provided a recap for each practice available online.
No one else in college football is doing the kinds of things that Graham is doing or the things he plans on implementing. He wants recruits to see look at ASU and see these cutting-edge things going on.
We can all see how much cutting-edge marketing techniques helped the University of Oregon get recruits, and Graham is trying to accomplish the same thing.
Todd Graham has hit the recruiting trail running.
Last week, the Sun Devils signed two big recruits in Chans Cox and Joshua Dobbs.
Cox is ranked by ESPN as the No. 1 fullback in the country and is ranked by Rivals as the number one athlete in the state. He plans to start next year for ASU at linebacker.
In February, Graham secured Scottsdale Saguaro High running back D.J. Foster. Foster is ranked as a 4-star athlete by Rivals.
In a January interview with Nikil Selvam of SB Nation, Graham stressed in-state recruiting and so far has done a good of it.
If Graham can recruit well, especially in-state, the Sun Devils will be successful next season.
Todd Graham likes to run a fast-paced, run-first offense that he likes to call "high-octane."
We want to be able to establish the run. We were fifth in the country in 2008 rushing the football. We were 15th in 2010. We were leading the country through six games last season until our tailback got hurt at Pittsburgh.
Last season, Sun Devil running back Cameron Marshall had 1050 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. He will greatly benefit from the high-octance offense that Graham will run.
With the ASU QB situation very much in the air, the Sun Devils will be able to rely on the run and not have to count on a first-year QB to lead the way.