Staff turnover is constant in college football. Assistant coaches come and go all the time.
But generally not two weeks before the season opener.
In a surprise move, Bo Graham, the running backs coach for Arizona State football, abruptly resigned his position yesterday, citing personal reasons for the quiet exit.
The resignation spread like wildfire among the media, even though this wasn’t about the head coach. However, in one way, it actually was about Todd Graham since Bo is his son who was just about to begin his fourth season as a member of his father ‘s staff. After spending a year as on-campus recruiting coordinator, the younger Graham was given the job of running backs coach.
Although neither the head coach or the ASU Athletic Department would comment on a specific reason behind the sudden departure, it’s a natural assumption that it may have involved personal issues between father and son – particularly since the head coach has been mum about the issue, and wasted no time in removing his son from the school website and quickly replacing him. This all happened between Saturday, when Bo was at practice as usual, and Monday when he was gone.
Another sign that this is a touchy subject: Graham wasn’t immediately available for comment, and Bo was not responding to media inquiries.
Bo brought several years of college experience to the ASU program when he joined his dad as Todd took over the program four years ago, working one season as assistant strength and conditioning coach at Rice, another as assistant wide receivers coach at Pitt, and a couple more at Tulsa, where he was the running backs coach.
Since Bo’s departure came so suddenly and in the 11th hour, Graham had no real option to look around for a replacement and take time for interviews. So he turned to a fellow Texan Josh Martin to fill the void. Martin was already serving as the assistant running backs coach, so it wasn’t a stretch.
Last season was his first on the ASU staff, working as offensive graduate assistant, and moved to working with running backs in the off-season.
Prior to coming to the Sun Devil program, Martin was on staff at Tarleton State University (TX), where he served as offensive line coach, and Texas Tech, where he worked with both the offensive and defensive lines.
Kenny Dillingham will reportedly slide over and assume Martin’s responsibilities. Dillingham has been serving as a graduate assistant on offense after spending last season working with the tight ends. He’s a local hire who came to ASU directly from a position as assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, where he began in 2007.
Besides the head coach, there are two players who will likely miss Bo Graham the most. Graham has been key to the development of D.J. Foster, who led the team last season in rushing and considered turning pro before deciding to return for his senior season, and Demario Richard, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season and will likely become the featured back in this year’s offense.
Under Bo Graham, the Sun Devil offense was averaging 180 yards rushing per game.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)