ASU turns focus to Graham, new stadium

The inevitable reaction after Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson was hired for the same job at Texas was speculation that Sun Devils coach Todd Graham would shortly follow him if, of course, Longhorns coach Mack Brown is fired or retires.

Arizona State immediately thought of that possibility, too. School president Michael Crow told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday afternoon that a precondition for Patterson being granted permission to interview with Texas was his agreeing to not hire anyone from Arizona State.

Of course, where there's a will -- and motivated rich guys -- lawyers perhaps can find a way. Apparently, binding contracts in college football are often circumvented.

Still, file Graham-to-Texas speculation away for the moment, as, at the very least, such a turn of events would require Arizona State continuing its recent surge and turning in a special season. Or a few special seasons.

At present, such speculation operates only as a distraction Graham would prefer to avoid.

"You can't control things you can't control," he said. "We've got to be focused going into this week. … I can't do anything about what people say."

While Graham's immediate focus is a visit to Utah on Saturday, he also surely shares with Sun Devils fans a central concern over Patterson's departure: the much-needed renovation of Sun Devil Stadium.

That project was the centerpiece of Patterson's agenda, and it will require a massive fundraising effort. If you're wondering about what skill will top the list of the soon-to-be-formed Arizona State AD search committee, it will be the ability to get boosters and local businesses to invest in that project.

While the reason Patterson was hired in March of 2012 was his business acumen, his background was almost exclusively in pro sports. It's fair to say he's unproven as a college athletic director and fundraiser, though the early returns have been positive, something of which Texas was surely aware. Also, his roots are deep in Texas. He got his undergraduate and law degrees at Texas and worked with Texas pro sports teams from 1989 to 2003.

It's not like he has deep roots in Phoenix.

In other words, he's not irreplaceable, and Sun Devils fans shouldn't view his departure as catastrophic for the stadium renovation effort.

There's no reason Arizona State can't recruit a new AD with a proven ability to convince boosters to write checks.