Tempe, AZ – Head coaches in college football absorb 95+% of the scrutiny from fans & media when their team fails and all of the accolades and respect when their team succeeds. ASU Head Coach Todd Graham gets it.
While essentially acting as the CEO of the program, Graham is held entirely responsible for the results. If a bad call is made by his coordinator or if his receiver drops a catch for the game winning score, it falls him. However, when one of his assistants “drops the ball,” he steps up to the mic and takes responsibility for it. What happens later between Graham and his coach is between them. But when one of the team’s position groups dominates their opponent, Graham is the first to give his assistant coach all of the credit.
“If I’ve done anything well since I’ve been here, I’ve hired great people, great teachers and great men,” Graham said. “We had a plan when we came in here, and they’ve executed the plan tremendously. They’ve worked extremely hard putting the right puzzle pieces together and I’m just really proud of them.”
He points to Shawn Griswold as an example. “Look at what our strength staff has done with Coach Griz. We led the country in scoring in the fourth quarter, and that has everything to do with training and conditioning. We’ve stayed fairly healthy and our training staff has been phenomenal. The number one job that I have is hiring the assistants that are going to develop the young men that we coach.”
Not only do Graham’s assistants lead their position groups in practice and preparation for games, they also reach out to their players each day on the phone or text to stay in touch. At the same time, assistants are constantly scouting talent and working the phones to make visits with potential recruits. “Not enough credit goes to our assistant coaches,” Graham said. “The head coach is an important position, but he’s dependent upon those nine assistants.”
ASU President Michael Crow also gets it. At the football banquet he presented Graham and his staff with crystal apples from Tiffany, calling them some of the best teachers in college football. It was a classy move by Dr. Crow who has taken a bigger interest in what Graham is doing.
Along with the success of the program, new opportunities arise for assistants. They gain interest from other programs. They are often offered more responsibilities and income, and for some, especially those who want to become the head coach of their own program one day, those opportunities are valuable.
In order to keep Mike Norvell on board at ASU, it was announced today that he has been promoted to Deputy Head Coach along with a salary increase. It shows the commitment level of the university to the program, and that Graham will do what it takes to ensure the future of the Sun Devil offense.
Here’s an interview with Mike Norvell on Burns & Gambo today.
“I am committed to the long-term success of this program under the leadership of Todd Graham,” Dr. Crow said. “Rewarding the skills of a master teacher like Mike Norvell is a demonstration of that commitment. Coach Norvell’s performance as offensive coordinator has been nationally recognized, and this promotion reflects the remarkable track record he has established in the last two years at ASU.”
As ASU builds on two impressive seasons under his leadership, Todd Graham understands the challenge he faces in maintaining the continuity of his staff. He has been a successful head coach for many years and he’s navigated the ebb & flow of changes with his assistants before.
Fans should feel comfortable with Graham as CEO of Sun Devil Football and his ability to manage the challenges of success. He is likely two steps ahead.