It is safe to say that the honeymoon is over for Todd Graham and the Arizona State Football team.
After an rocket start at 5-1, Graham and the Sun Devils hit the meat of their schedule and lost four straight to No. 5 Oregon, No. 17 UCLA, No. 15 Oregon State and No. 19 USC.
Graham is now poised to take on a familiar face in Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez. They first met in 1993 on the football field where Graham played defensive back and was hired on as Defensive Coordinator five years later.
The site was Norris Field on the campus of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Rodriguez was in his third year as head coach of small Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia, 90 miles south of his alma mater, the University of West Virgina.
The NAIA Championship was on the line. Graham's defense bested Rodriguez's offense, 49-35. Although Graham's Tigers won the Championship, it was Rodriguez who was named Coach of the Year and was eventually hired on as the head coach at the University of West Virginia in 2001. One of the first coaches Rodriguez hired was Todd Graham as his Linebackers Coach.
Graham was promoted to Co-Defensive Coordinator and parlayed that into his first college head coaching job at the University of Tulsa.
Now, the two will meet again—nearly 10 years later—as opposing head coaches.
I will break down the game, the matchups and relive some of the great memories of one of the best rivalries in college football.