Monday, November 12, 2018

Report: KU interested in former Arizona State football coach Todd Graham

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2017, file photo, Arizona State coach Todd Graham, left, argues with an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State fired Graham on Sunday, Nov. 26, after six seasons with the Sun Devils that earned five bowl trips. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2017, file photo, Arizona State coach Todd Graham, left, argues with an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State fired Graham on Sunday, Nov. 26, after six seasons with the Sun Devils that earned five bowl trips. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)


Les Miles isn’t the only currently unaffiliated former head football coach on the radar of Jeff Long, athletic director at the University of Kansas.

According to a Monday report from CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, “mutual interest” exists between former Arizona State coach Todd Graham and KU, as well.

Graham coached at Arizona State from 2012-17, going 46-32, with five bowl appearances. He was fired shortly after the team’s 2017 regular-season finale, a win over rival Arizona that brought the Sun Devils’ record to 7-5. ASU hired former NFL coach Herm Edwards shortly thereafter.

ASU experienced two losing seasons — a 6-7 mark in 2015 and 5-7 in 2016 — during Graham’s time in Tempe, Ariz.

Prior to his run with the Sun Devils, Graham, now 53, spent one season as head coach at Rice, four at Tulsa and one year at Pitt. His teams overall have gone 95-61 over the course of 12 years.

This isn’t the first time Graham’s name has been tied to KU. Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant mentioned the former ASU coach on his Hot Board of potential candidates this past week.

Monday marked the eighth official day of Long’s search for David Beaty’s replacement. KU’s AD said on the day he announced his decision to fire Beaty that, based on his evaluation of the program, “I think we need someone with head coaching experience.”

Graham told this past August he had offers to work in 2017, but turned them down. But he didn’t plan on staying away from coaching.

"I believe I was born to run programs and to make a difference in kids’ lives, so I’m planning to do that," Graham said at the time. "That’s what I’m working on every day, spending time trying to be innovative, developing new things defensively and offensively."


Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

Would be a very good hire! Everyone has Les Miles fever including me but this guy has won everywhere he has been and is an innovative coach. Has beaten upper echelon teams and is a frequent to bowl games. Multiple 10 win seasons, good recruiter, seasoned coach. Checks all the boxes. The Les Miles news has made us a bit greedy but this certainly would be a superb hire in my opinion. The guy can coach.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't have Les Miles fever... at all. 65 years old and notorious for running non-descript offenses that were ranked 93rd to 103rd in the nation his last 2 years... despite recruiting classes ranked #2, #5 and #2 in his last 3 years at LSU. NEWSFLASH: He won't be able to recruit at KU like he did at LSU, which is Louisiana/Texas/Mississippi/Georgia/Florida talent-laden hotbed for recruiting.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 7 months ago

Keep ignoring what he did at Oklahoma State which is much closer to what the expectations for him at Kansas would be.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

And if Les was 47 years old.. like he was when he took over Oklahoma State, then I would be much more supportive of his hire. To say this coaching stop at Kansas would be a highlight in his coaching career... is rather disingenuous. We need a hungry, energetic guy who can adapt to todays' game and offenses. Guess how many times with recruiting classes ranked 1,8,2,5,2... in Les' last 5 years at LSU... that LSU finished in the top 10. fact they finished unranked in 2014. Despite all those amazing recruits (and with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham both starting at WR on the same team... Les managed to have offenses (and in particular passing offenses) ranked 93rd and 103rd in the country. That's how you lose your job.. .and that's how you go about 0-7 in other openings that you have either interviewed for... or expressed interest in... and end up getting passed over by someone else. Yet, he's good enough for us.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 7 months ago

Miles contract states he has to be actively seeking a job each offseason to keep his buyout payments coming. We don't actually know what jobs he was specifically interested in or just interviewing to keep the checks coming.

Joe Black 3 years, 7 months ago

That is exactly the type of interviewing he would be doing with the Jayhawks.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 7 months ago

Never mind that Long has known Miles for 30 years and that Long hired another long time Miles friend in Ballinger to run the PR for KU Athletics.

Clearly no reason for Miles to come to KU despite two people in higher up roles that he's known for about 30 years.

Kenny George 3 years, 7 months ago

This would be a great hire! Very hard worker and intense with the players. Great football mind and wins a lot of games. 10 bowl games in 12 seasons as head coach. Can raise money and is great with donors. This all comes from a former Tulsa football player I know very well.

Joe Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

This perhaps explains the plane itinerary from Arizona to Dallas to the trip-to-Louisiana-that-didn't-happen.

John Kelso 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes this is the coach that left Tulsa in the middle of the night and texted his assistant coaches they no longer had a job. He pretty much done the same thing when he left Pitt for ASU. Graham is a stooge, that would be just like KU to bring this idiot to Lawrence.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

I 100%agree with John Kelso. Graham was at Rice and coached them one year.. signed a contract EXTENSION.. and then bailed for Tulsa. Coached Tulsa and then went for a "dream" job with Pitt.. where he left after LESS THAN A YEAR to go take the Arizona State job. Here is an article from Rolling Stone:

A brief primer: In 2006, Graham got his first head coaching job, at Rice. He went 7-6, which was a minor miracle for a Rice football team back then, and he was named the Conference USA coach of the year. He signed a contract extension, and just a few days later he left to take the head job at Tulsa, so angering the school he’d left behind that the marching band actually played a show called “Todd Graham’s Inferno.” And then a few years later, he did it again: After jumping from Tulsa to Pitt in January 2011, Graham went 6-6, interviewed for the head coaching job at Arizona State the following December, and, after refusing to even speak to Pitt’s athletic director, informed his players via text message that he was leaving. This after he’d referred to some of his assistant coaches who’d departed for other jobs as “mercenaries.”

Just read these articles:

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm intrigued, but this isn't my top choice. With what Kelso mentions, I become less intrigued. I still think there are about 5 names ahead of him, but that doesn't mean he isn't in a good place to discuss.

I'd still have Leach, Miles, Venables ahead of him. I'd be curious about Kiffen.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 7 months ago

John raises an interesting question hidden in the demeaning and disrespectful comments. What is appropriate for notification? Regular jobs the standard is 2 weeks notice. Some executives give a month or 6 or none at all.

In this age of instant news, holding a meeting with your former team undermines the announcement of the program you are going to be working with.

Breaking up stinks but I think I'm leaning towards giving deference to where I'm going than where I've been.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 7 months ago

Agreed. 99% of the time, people who give notice are walked out the door the same day. How he left a program doesn't concern me.

I have to admit that this one caught me by surprise but his overall resume looks pretty good. His time in Tulsa and at Rice would provide a good background for recruiting the area.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 7 months ago

Graham's statements in the last paragraph are encouraging.

David Robinett 3 years, 7 months ago

Plus AZ isn’t a hotbed of football talent to my knowledge, so he must of been able to recruit from out of state.

John Kelso 3 years, 7 months ago

Did you happen to do any research on your own before posting remarks?

Did you read about any of the issues at ASU? How about his son Bo who couldn’t keep his hands off the female students?

Graham has about as much institutional control over his programs as the SMU football staff of the 1980’s. Graham coaches for the money period.

John Joseph Gorski 3 years, 7 months ago

I wonder what the reason was that got him fired. Your 7-5, Bowl bowl eligible, just beat your rival and you get fired for that? Gotta be something else there, ASU wasn't exactly a big name school!

Waylon Cook 3 years, 7 months ago

Ask previous fans and insiders of the previous programs, how they feel! This guy is a P R I C K! He is Petrino without the scandals! Always looking for the next big move! Btw when he was scoring a ton at Tulsa look at who was running his offenses. NO to this one!

Brett McCabe 3 years, 7 months ago

On the flip side, Long must manage the coach that he hires. My guess is that this is where Long's connections come into play....."hey, how was it to work with this guy?".

Dane Pratt 3 years, 7 months ago

The guy has pretty good numbers but one year at Rice and one year at Pitt. Red flags.

John Kelso 3 years, 7 months ago

Waylon that’s exactly what people say about Graham. I lived 2 house down from one of Graham’s former assistant coaches, we were actually having a cookout when this coach received his notice from Graham via text, sure put a dampener on the day.

This is the same Ahole that promised the players and recruits he’d never leave Pitt, he slipped out under the cover of darkness shortly there after for more money at ASU.

I’d trust a rattlesnake long before I’d trust Todd Graham

Kirk Garrett 3 years, 7 months ago

I hope we can do better than THAT. But we probably can’t.

3 years, 7 months ago

good god. uve got to be kidding. kelso is spot on, this guy is nothing but trouble and only ku could be so stupid to hire him. we need an UP & comer, w proven experience. long has been disappointing so far. we are talking about Kansas Football .. we need to think outside the box, fellas! jfc. Monken is the guy. u win @ army = actual promise u could win @ ku. we are not 'just any other 🏈 program' and EVERYONE needs to remember THAT.

Ashwin Rao 3 years, 7 months ago

I think we should stop reacting to rumors! Let facts come out first.

Ashwin Rao 3 years, 7 months ago

And nothing that a contract can't fix. Just make it financially hard for him to leave!

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 7 months ago

Monken...please no...his resume is worse than Turner Gill's resume.

0-4 against ranked opponents.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's be fair here regarding Monken's Army teams against ranked opponents. Jeff Monken lost in his 2nd game as head coach at Army AT #15 Stanford. He then lost in 2015 to #21 Navy 21-17. He lost last year AT #8 Ohio State.. and he lost this year AT #5 ranked Oklahoma 28-21. So we are expecting an Army football team to win on the road at Stanford, Ohio State and Oklahoma? Setting the bar awfully high, aren't we? As for a resume worse than Turner Gill's: Let's try this:

In 21 seasons from 1994 through 2013, Army had exactly TWO winning seasons... the most recent being a 7-6 record in 2010... and Army then went 8-28 from 2011 through 2013. Monken got hired in 2014.. and they went 4-8... then 2-10 in 2015.. .then 8-5 in 2016.. then 10-3 in 2017... and 8-2 so far this year, nearly beating OU in Norman. He is 26-10 in his last 3 seasons at Army. In the 18 years prior to Jeff Monken... Army was 50-177.

As for Turner Gill.. he went 20-30 at Buffalo in 4 years from 2006-2009 and had exactly one winning season. Jeff Quinn took over @Buffalo for 4.5 years and went 20-36. Lance Leipold took over in 2015 and in 4 years has gone 22-24.. including an impressive 9-1 this year. Turner Gill is no more accomplished at Buffalo than its current coach. Turner Gill has exactly one winning season (8-6) as a head football coach. Hardly a comparable track record to Jeff Monken

Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

My fear with Monken is that while the triple option can somewhat level the playing field against tough opponents, it also caps the ceiling of how good KU could be. I picture a scenario where KU plays a bunch of close games in the Big 12 that they never actually win. Then again I could be totally wrong!!

3 years, 7 months ago

jeff- you're joking right? 0-4 against ranked teams?!? NICK SABAN couldnt beat RANKED TEAMS at ARMY. cmon man.

Robert Brown 3 years, 7 months ago

There are a lot of red flags with Graham. I am probably a bit biased, but Graham took Rice to its first bowl in something 40 years and signed a contract extension. THREE DAYS later he signed with Tulsa. To me, he has a character issue.

I have followed his career since and he does seem to be successful wherever he goes. He had some good years at ASU, and even though he had a couple of mediocre years, last year, ASU was 7-5 with a conference record of 6-3. They lost a few close games and beat two teams that were ranked at the time. For some reason, ASU decided it was worth a $12M to fire Graham after the season. There has to be other issues, because that does not make a lot of sense. The cupboard clearly was not bare as ASU is having a decent season this year under Herm Edwards.

Joe Black 3 years, 7 months ago

So what, he signed an extension and three days later he leaves for Tulsa. That is how the real world works. Tulsa wanted him and so do Rice but Tulsa won out with a better offer. Doesn't matter if it was 3 days or 6 months later.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

Here's why it matters, Joe. He coached one year at Rice and then signed and extension.. and then left for Tulsa, saying it was better for his family. He then coached Tulsa and left them for Pitt... saying it was a dream job and again claimed it was best for his family. He coached one season at Pitt and then left the Pitt program for ASU.. saying it was a dream job and a move that was better for his family. He TEXTED the AD and TEXTED his football players that he was leaving ... never even met with them. Kansas should be looking for a head coach that will build the program and demonstrate some loyalty and commitment to the school. This is not Graham's track record. We should not want a guy who is at the end of his career (Les Miles)... nor a guy who has left previous schools high and dry (Graham). We need a man of character.. who we have confidence has the energy and commitment to lock in for 5 years and get the football program on track. Nothing in Todd Graham's resume... track record... indicates that he is that guy.

Joe Black 3 years, 7 months ago

Last time we hired a man of character (Turner Gill) it didn't turn out so well.

Of course we would love to hire a man of character. We want to build young men that can make a valuable contribution to society but is there someone out there that fits that bill and can also turn around a team that is in as bad of a condition as this team? I don't know the answer to that question.. As I stated before, KU is not in a position to be overly picky if winning is so important. And evidently winning is the most important thing in the world if you read what the "fans" post on this site every day.

Joe Black 3 years, 7 months ago

KU cannot be picky at this point. We are not going to be the Dream job for anybody. Any coach we get will come with baggage. You might as well get one that has shown that he can win in not the best of circumstances.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 7 months ago

There are some excellent coaches out there and there are some with reasons why they were dismissed from their previous employers. However, it's not like Bob Stoops is going to walk over to KU and start coaching us. I personally believe that we have had big names and solid candidates the past three opportunities and we have gone with people that are off the radar and not a good choice. Think about this for a second. If Bob Stoops hadn't "walked away" he most likely would have been terminated a year later and people would have looked at his flaws instead of his coaching abilities.

This coming contract will be a difficult one, it is going to likely pay more than $3mm/year and lock in at about 5 years. This will be more money committed to a football coach ever for KU and could set us back similar to the Charlie Weis deal if we don't win.

I still believe there are several coaches that can and will win at KU, but the ability to assemble a coaching staff that is effective is the key and the past three were not able to do that. I believe that Beaty's biggest downfall was his inability to pick a coaching staff that could coach up players consistently. I think his quote was when hiring coaches I look to the ones that beat me and hired them.

Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

Great analysis Jeff! The only rebuttal I would have is that I feel Beaty actually put together a pretty good defensive staff. KU has recruited good defensive players and coached them up fairly well. Flashback four years ago and KU literally gave up a deep pass on every play or got gashed on the ground. They have made steady improvement every year and is no doubt the strong suit of the team. I think the biggest issue was always the offense. Just too many conflicts on how to run the offense. You make a great point as well on coaches who get fired. People tend to remember their flaws as opposed to their body of work.

Robert Brock 3 years, 7 months ago

Long is not going to hire a coach who is not trustworthy.

Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't know this coach from Adam, but once a cheater always a cheater, not saying he cheats, but if he is always looking for greener pastures rest assured he will bolt for the next better job, if/when he get hired if/when he helps KUFB become successful. Maybe in the middle of the night maybe not but rest assured he will.....

Dee Shaw 3 years, 7 months ago

I would be ok with this hire. How about another Arizona name. Rich Rodriguez.

Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

Good coach but no chance. He got fired for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment allegations. Way too soon for him to be coaching again.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 7 months ago

No to Graham because he'd be gone at the first job offer that came his way.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

Rich Rodriguez, Mike Leach, Lane Kiffin.. .I see we are mentioning all the high character guys out there... wow. Rich Rodriguez at Michigan: Several Michigan players transferred and subsequently criticized Rodriguez. Justin Boren transferred from the program to rival Ohio State citing offensive behavior and a "lack of family values" from the coaching staff. The next year (2009), Michigan was investigated by the NCAA and no 2/22/10... the NCAA charged Michigan with 5 major rules violations.... the first time Michigan had ever had violations alleged against the football program. Rodriguez went 5-7 at Michigan in 2009 (1-7 in conference play). In 2010, they went 3-5 in Big 10 conference play. He was fired from Michigan after 2010 season with a .405 winning percentage... 15-22, the lowest in Michigan school history for a head coach. So on to Arizona... where he performed well... until he was accused by an administrative assistant for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Arizona conducted its own 3 month internal investigation... which found merit to the accusations and resulted in his firing in Jan 2, 2018.

This again.. is just the kind of leader of men KU needs.

Mike Leach... he had issues at Texas Tech.. and a reputation for being an extreme hot head, but he's successful and was loyal to Texas Tech until they ousted him.. and he's been loyal to WSU since he signed on with them in 2013. Could do worse.

Lane Kiffin? Talk about leaving for greener pastures. He abandoned Tennesee after 1 year and bolted for USC.. where he was eventually fired. Why would he come.. and stay for any length of time at Kansas? His track record shows no willingness to stay put.

Chad Dexter 3 years, 7 months ago

The only one of those that sounds appealing is Leach. I think he got a raw deal at Texas Tech.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 7 months ago

I think the thought is intriguing but can't ignore the red flags. He belongs in the NFL where he won't be stiffing schools and his own players. I mean the guy has bolted 3 times. Unstable. Who could possibly leave KU worse than they found it? Definitely this guy. And that is a question I hope Long asks himself with any of his targets, what is the chance that this guy could leave us in an even bigger hole?

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