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By Tyler Wiese
After disappointing results for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Arizona State University football head coach Todd Graham will be coaching for his job security coming into the 2017 college football season.
During Graham’s first year in Tempe (2012), he was able to turn around the ASU program quickly, as he led the Sun Devils to their first winning season since 2007.
Graham ended his first season with an 8-5 record, winning the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Navy.
Over the next two seasons as head coach, Graham led the Sun Devils to two consecutive 10-win seasons as ASU went 10-4 in 2013 and 10-3 record in 2014 for a combined record of 28-12 over his first three seasons.
Arizona State went 8-1 in conference play in 2013 while losing its last two games in the Pac-12 Championship against Stanford and the Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech.
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Graham found himself struggling to find wins as ASU ended the 2015 season with a 6-7 record and 2016 with his worst record yet at 5-7.
Over his time at ASU, Graham has found himself homesick, for only two out of their last 11 wins have come away from Tempe.
The Texas native has made ASU relevant in the recruiting game, placing ASU in the top five in the Pac-12 ever since his arrival.
With slight declines of recruiting over the past couple seasons, Graham has produced a solid 2017 class that is headlined by former five-star Alabama recruit Blake Barnett.
While injuries were a reoccurring theme last season for the Sun Devils, more depth in the secondary and a plethora of quarterbacks to choose from this year will not help Graham’s case if he doesn’t get the team to a bowl game.
Added pressure from one of the worst statistical defenses in a college football season and his roots coming from the defensive side of the ball, Graham can’t afford to let his defense give up an average of 39.8 points per game like the team did last season.
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With upcoming 2017 home tilts against Washington, USC, and Colorado, Graham will need the team to be playing some of their best football in recent years as their schedule is unforgiving.
Washington is coming off one of their best seasons in school history, making the college football playoffs only to get trampled by the Crimson Tide.
USC has reached national college football relevance as the program won its 25th Rose Bowl along with bringing in the fifth-ranked recruiting class in college football.
Finally, Colorado and AP Coach of the Year, Mike MacIntyre, have the Buffaloes running away from their terrible past into Pac-12 South Division Champions.
Arizona State has given Graham full control over his staff during his time with the team. Going into his sixth season, Graham has replaced his staff with six new assistants and a new offensive coordinator in Billy Napier and a new defensive coordinator in Phil Bennett.
Graham and the rest of the Arizona State football staff will need to be able to synchronize quickly in order to produce promising results for the Sun Devils in 2017. Otherwise, we can expect Todd Graham to be looking for another job outside of Tempe.