Relax…ASU’s football coach won’t get a shot at Texas job

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                </div>  The loss of its athletic director last month was a setback for the Arizona State athletics program.  But now, Steve Patterson‘s departure may, in an ironic twist, have actually […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The loss of its athletic director last month was a setback for the Arizona State athletics program.  But now, Steve Patterson‘s departure may, in an ironic twist, have actually enabled the football program to keep its head coach.

Patterson left ASU for one of the top jobs in college athletics, taking over the University of Texas program.  When he left the desert he reportedly signed an agreement that would prevent him from hiring away any ASU coaches. The head football coach, Todd Graham, was undoubtedly uppermost on the minds of the administrators when they drew up that agreement since Patterson and Graham had formed a pretty solid friendship while working together in Tempe.

So now, six weeks after Patterson announced he was leaving ASU, the new Texas AD has a coaching vacancy in the Longhorn football program after head coach Mack Brown ‘stepped down’ last week.  And it’s probably safe to say that would be a dream job for Graham, a Texas native.

The UT coaching job is one of the most sought-after in the country.  Longhorn football is a tradition-rich program that drives a college budget that is the largest in the country.

Brown spent 16 years in charge of the Longhorn program and put up impressive numbers during that time, including a national championship and a nine-year span in which his teams won at least 10 wins each season. That ended in 2009 and, since then, his teams haven’t been able to live up to the expectations of Texas football; Brown has lost 20 games during the last four seasons.

So he’s been on the hot seat for some time and his departure wasn’t unexpected.  Any other AD would likely have made the same decision Patterson did.  But Graham’s luck of the draw was that it was Patterson.

Graham has impressed at each of his head-coaching stops.  At Rice he was named the 2006 Conference USA Coach of the Year and at Tulsa he put up back-to-back 10-win seasons.  He was 6-6 at Pittsburgh in the only year he spent there before taking the ASU job.

Since arriving at ASU, he’s made huge strides to put the Sun Devils back on the path to the national respect it enjoyed under the legendary Frank Kush. He went 8-5 last season, the first winning season in five years, and guided that team to a bowl victory over Navy.  This year he’s 10-3 and headed to another bowl to play Texas Tech.

And he’s beat rival Arizona both times they’ve played.  Even Brown at Texas was just 7-9 against its bitter rival, Oklahoma.

Graham was born in Mesquite, Texas, 49 years ago and grew up in the Lone Star state.  That would certainly have meant something to the Texas search committee.  And his success so far at ASU, where he has taken the Sun Devils to a No. 16 national ranking, would have put him in the mix with those already mentioned as possible candidates for the job, coaches like Gary Anderson at Wisconsin, Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State, Al Golden at Miami, and Mark Dantonio at Michigan State.

But, if Patterson holds true to his word, Graham won’t get the opportunity to jump into the pool with his peers.

However, if he continues to be successful at Arizona State, there will be another pool down the road.  And Sun Devil fans will most surely watch as their head coach swims away to a bigger program and, of course, more money.  The contract extension he signed earlier this year won’t be enough to keep him in the fold.

ASU dodged the bullet this time.  But enjoy the trip while Graham has the Devils riding high.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)