Ray Anderson explains the decision to fire Todd Graham

According to Ray Anderson, a change was needed at the ASU football head coaching position

A 7-5 season with a Territorial Cup victory was not enough for Todd Graham to keep his job as ASU head coach. 

Graham was fired Sunday morning and ASU Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson gave an explanation at a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

Anderson said the decision was independent of single-game results, meaning Saturday's Territorial Cup win was not as big of a factor as Graham's "body of work." 

There were a few points that Anderson brought up more than once. He expressed how he felt the team had become average, how the program was not reaching major bowl games and how it lacked consistency.

Entering the season, a 7-5 finish is better than predicted, but the Pac-12 South was weaker than usual, with UCLA and Utah ending with pedestrian 6-6 records, and with Arizona losing star quarterback Khalil Tate to injury in the second half of the Territorial Cup.

ASU will still play in a bowl game, but Anderson expressed that he expected more.

"Some folks are okay with going to the Cactus Bowl and the Sun Bowl," Anderson said. "But if anyone here is satisfied with that, I don't understand it."

Under Graham's reign, the Sun Devils have qualified for five bowl games, but none have been high-profile.

Anderson also added that he believes the Sun Devils can be a top-15 team in the country and improve their status in their own conference.

"We should be top three in the Pac-12, in my opinion, every season," Anderson said.

According to Anderson, it comes down to consistency. 

"I also must measure competitive consistency on what happens on the field because at the end of the day, that is what a head coach is primarily charged to do," Anderson said. "And competitive consistency, in my view, is comprised of recruiting, developing players that you do recruit ... developing and retaining your assistant coaches and then in-game preparation and in-game management."

Graham's tenure in Tempe started with eight wins in 2012, and then consecutive ten-win seasons the next two years, winning the Pac-12 South in 2013.

Anderson said he was also not content with the current recruiting at ASU and the lack of players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. The only Sun Devil picked in the NFL Draft was kicker Zane Gonzalez in the seventh round.

"We don't have that here – you cannot have a year when none of our players get drafted to the NFL and only a kicker goes to the combine," Anderson said.

Anderson said the new coach will be decided upon internally and that ASU will not use a search firm.

Graham will coach the team's bowl game in December, but after that he is gone. Another question looming is what will happen to the assistant coaches – most notably offensive coordinator Billy Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.

Generally, new coaches want to bring in their own staff. That is not what Anderson said he wants, as he stated that he hopes for some coaching continuity.

"Manny Wilkins does not need a fourth coordinator in four years," Anderson said.



Reach the reporter at mpharri7@asu.edu or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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