It was a sad weekend for Wildcat Universe. The start of the Gonzaga game was bad enough but Cat fans also had to come to terms with the fact that the Arizona State football coaching search had come to an end.
It’s like watching the circus leave town after a long, entertaining run.
When you’re an admittedly biased fan it’s a good idea to keep tabs on the national view of your favorite team (and least favorite team) to make sure your perspective isn’t too far out of whack. That’s why it was encouraging for UA fans to read all the positive coverage of Rich Rodriguez’s return to coaching, and so amusing to follow the national response to ASU’s uncomfortable journey that lead to an awkward hire.
If you don’t agree you’re welcome to read for yourself.
First, a refresher on all the praise Greg Byrne received for bringing in RichRod:
ESPN: “Arizona may be a better fit for a guy like Rodriguez than Michigan. He is a genuinely nice person whose default facial expression is a grin.”
Sports Illustrated: “Rodriguez has better chance of success at Arizona than Michigan”
CBS: “Just about the perfect hire.”
Now contrast that with the commentary following ASU’s hire of Todd Graham after just one season at Pitt:
ESPN: “Graham…becomes the new president of the Liar’s Club…nothing more than a slithery used-car salesman”
Yahoo Sports: “You start to figure out that Todd Graham is all about himself. Not all about the team he’s coaching.”
CBS: “Carpetbaggers think he is disloyal…. At least in Tempe, it’s a dry mediocrity.”
Sports Illustrated: “Evidently, loyalty and commitment come with expiration dates. Like rotten fruit.”
SIx2: “Todd Graham is pretty gross, y’all.”
Of course, public opinion doesn’t win football games. Who can forget the mocking Auburn fans received (and gave out) when Gene Chizik was introduced as coach (it turns out the crystal ball was shaped like a football). There are also examples of programs logically hiring wildly successful coaches who end up failing (such as Arizona’s new coach at his last job).
Putting aside the farewell text messages the Graham hire is unique because of what he left. He is just the third head coach in the past dozen years to leave a BCS conference to come to the Pac-12. Of the other two, one came from Pitt (Walt Harris to Stanford in 2005) and the other had only been at his current job for one season (Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee for USC two years ago). Combine the two and you have Todd Graham.
It’s a shame the never-dull ASU football coaching search has ended, but it doesn’t look like the Territorial Cup rivalry is going to be lacking in excitement for a while.
Well, for at least one year anyway.
– – – – –