<
>

Arizona State fires coach Todd Graham after six seasons

play
Sumlin a 'clear fit' for Arizona State (0:55)

Adam Rittenberg reports on the firing of Arizona State head coach Todd Graham and looks to the most popular candidate in Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin. (0:55)

Despite beating rival Arizona on Saturday, Todd Graham did not save his job. Arizona State fired its football coach on Sunday.

The Sun Devils beat Arizona 42-30 to finish the regular season 7-5 and 6-3 in the Pac-12.

The school said in a statement that Graham and his staff will stay on through the team's bowl appearance.

Graham, 52, went 46-31 in six seasons in Tempe, winning 10 games in both 2013 and 2014. He is 2-2 in bowl games.

"When evaluating our head coaches, we have been very clear in our four-prong approach: integrity, academics, performance and fan affinity advancement," Arizona State vice president of athletics Ray Anderson said in a statement. "From the moment he arrived in Tempe, Todd helped change the culture and emphasized the student in student-athlete here at Arizona State, elevating the program to unprecedented heights in the classroom and strong citizenship across the board.

"However, our athletic department, university and community expect our football program to compete on the field for Pac-12 titles, be competitively consistent and qualify to participate in major bowl games on a regular basis. In evaluating Todd's body of work over a four-year period, it became clear that a change is necessary."

Graham came to Arizona State from Pittsburgh, where he was 6-6 in one season. Before that he spent four seasons at Tulsa, amassing a 36-17 record.

ASU will not employ a search firm to assist with finding Graham's replacement, Anderson said, and is not looking for a coach who wants to come in and clean house.

"In my view, [first-year offensive coordinator] Billy Napier has done an outstanding job with our offense," Anderson said. "In my view, [first-hear defensive coordinator] Phil Bennett has helped us make progress with our defense. I've made it very clear to both of those guys that we want them to have the opportunity to come back and any head coach that comes in here and doesn't see that value is not the guy for us.

"And so it's not a situation where we need to clean house and start over. [Quarterback] Manny Wilkins doesn't need a fourth coordinator in four years. That will not be our direction."

Napier replaced Chip Lindsey, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Auburn after one season in Tempe, and helped the Sun Devils improve across the board compared to 2016. However, they still ranked just eighth in the Pac-12 in yards per play (5.63) and seventh in points per drive.

Defensively, the Sun Devils allowed more than 70 fewer yards and roughly eight fewer points a game than they did a year ago in Bennett's first year with the program.

Coming into this season, the Arizona State program had been in decline for three straight years. After winning the Pac-12 South with an 8-1 conference record in 2013, the Sun Devils went 6-3, 4-5 and 2-7 in the Pac-12, and it was understood that Graham needed to engineer a significant turnaround to save his job.

Anderson chose not to extend his contract after the Sun Devils finished 5-7 overall in the 2016 season. Graham's buyout is reportedly worth at least $11 million.

"Losing records over more than one year in any sport are unacceptable," Arizona State president Michael Crow said before this season began. "You have to look at what the reasons are and the dynamics, but Coach Graham completely understands that his very successful start at ASU has got to be realized again."

ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura contributed to this report.