Arizona State head coach Todd Graham and his son, running backs coach Bo Graham, were 35,000 feet in the air on their way to Texas, nodding off as one does when they reach a comfortable altitude aboard a plane. That's when they were both jarred awake by a loud, explosive sound.
This is essentially the moment a mere recruiting trip became a harrowing experience neither man will soon forget.
AZ Central's Doug Haller reports Graham and his son had taken a flight on a small plane after the Sun Devils' win over Washington State on Thursday night.
The early game seems to have afforded the coach some time to fit in a recruitment trip to Texas. As the elder Graham slept, Bo began to nod off. And that's when mid-flight bedlam woke the pair.
Anyone with the slightest fear of flying has pondered the need to use those oxygen masks that drop from the ceiling in an emergency.
After hearing what they describe as a "boom" sound, that is exactly what the two coaches saw the two pilots—the only other people on board the tiny aircraft—wearing at the time.
"I woke up and the pilots were putting on their (oxygen) masks. The plane started shaking," the head coach said as he relived the nightmare scenario.
"There were sirens going off. I saw the pilots put on their masks," Bo chimed in. "It took a couple minutes for ours to come down. Actually, mine didn’t fall down so I had to go up front and get one."
If that weren't scary enough, his 48-year-old father added, "Then the plane started diving."
Of course, the two are doing fine and, per the report, the plane was stabilized at 10,000 feet and eventually completed an emergency landing in Albuquerque, N.M.
Still, the experience had a lasting effect on the men, as they had trouble sleeping and felt uneasy in the days after the incident.
It's understandable, because Todd admitted that he thought this was indeed his worst fear realized
"I’m not lying. I thought this might have been it. Bo looked like he was in shock," he said.
With that, you have to think Todd was not only worried about his own safety, but that of his son, who was mere feet from where he was sitting.
And really, the only thing you can do in that situation is sit back, put on the mask and hope.
Bo continued, "The pilots weren’t saying anything. It was nerve-wracking, not to have any control over anything, not to know what was going on. It wasn’t good."
As Haller writes, the two eventually made their way to Texas after transferring to another plane, but had some issues adjusting after such a scare. Todd had trouble concentrating during a subsequent film session and Bo had a migraine, as well as trouble sleeping.
One person relayed to Todd that the plane mishap was similar to that endured by Payne Stewart's aircraft before it crashed back in 1999. It's that kind of connection that instantly puts things into perspective, with the kind of thunderous boom that stays with you long after the ordeal.
Thankfully, both are back coaching and were at Sunday's practice as the team prepares to take on Utah this coming Saturday.
We certainly wouldn't fault the two if they were currently monitoring the bus schedules for later this week.
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