Todd Graham Faces Challenge Of Rebuilding ASU’s Image, Retaining Strong 2012 Recruiting Class

PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 11: The new University of Pittsburgh head football coach Todd Graham speaks to the media during a press conference at the University of Pittsburgh Panthers South Side training facility on January 11 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Finally, more than half of a month after ASU announced that it was firing Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils have found their new football head coach. Todd Graham, who most recently served as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers of the Big East, will take over as Erickson's successor and attempt to re-establish a program in seeming disarray.

Graham has six total years of head coaching experience: one year at Rice, four years at Tulsa, and one year at Pitt. During that time, he has compiled an impressive 49-29 record with only one losing season and three division titles overall (all three with Tulsa in Conference USA). Of course, the fact that he will be headed to his fourth job in six years is a bit concerning.

Graham's first task will be to retain ASU's strong 2012 recruiting class. According to ESPN, ASU has the 24th best incoming class in the nation for 2012. The class at present includes 22 total commits, the most in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils have netted six four-star prospects (including ESPN 150 prospect T.J. Millwead) and nine three-star prospects.

With news that wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Broussard is heading to UCLA, the 2012 class could take a huge hit. Broussard played a big role in bringing together this class, and if he leaves, there's no reason to think that his recruits won't follow him off. That is, unless Graham gives them reason not to.

Fair or not, this coaching search has reflected very poorly on the ability of the football program, which is the type of thing that scares away high school athletes and causes them to de-commit. If Graham can breathe some life back into ASU football, he could retain some of ASU's 2012 recruits.

In addition, there's the chance that some of Graham's recruits from Pitt could transfer to ASU. Pitt's recruiting class stacks up very similarly to ASU's: 19 overall recruits with four four-star prospects (including ESPN U 150 running back Rushel Shell, ranked third among all running backs in his class) and 10 three-star prospects.

It'll be an interesting process to see which recruits transfer out and which transfer in over the following weeks. For now, it's good to know that ASU has found its man to take over the football program. How he performs in rebuilding ASU's image in the minds of these athletes could go a long way in determining his success in the coming year(s). Your move, Mr. Graham.

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