National Letter of Intent Day is now just under a week away (February 1st for those scoring at home), and that marks the first major event of the Todd Graham era.
When he was hired on December 14th, Graham inherited a program in complete disarray. The team had lost four straight games that had cost them a once certain South division title, the culture around the program was toxic, key recruits and assistant coaches were leaving for division rivals, and the fanbase and boosters were either livid or pushed into apathy by the school's terrible coaching search. Then, just three weeks later, he lost his two most prominent players on each side of the ball--Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict--to the NFL Draft.
Yet, as January draws to a close, Graham has done something nearly impossible--he's restored faith in the program.
He's assembled a very talented, if under-the-radar staff. He's aggressively hit the recruiting trail and not only has he salvaged a large number of key recruits, he's expanding ASU's reach and making strides in keeping local prospects in state. Graham's also bringing a strong sense of discipline and accountability to a program and roster that had spent five listless years under Dennis Erickson.
But most importantly, he's brought back a sense of optimism that for once doesn't feel misplaced. ASU fans have been duped by false hopes and promises more times than anyone would care to count. But the early returns on Graham have been far better than most could have realistically hoped for back in December. He's laying down a strong foundation from which he and his staff can build a consistent winner.
So far he's talked the talk and walked the walk. We'll see on February 1st how many recruits have decided to start "speaking victory" with Graham.
Six weeks after his hire, how would you rate the early work of Todd Graham and his staff?
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