Todd Graham (ASU Athletics)
Todd Graham has a lot of dreams.
In 2006, Graham told Rice players, administrators and fans that he'd wanted the Rice job since he was a young man.
"I've dreamed of this day since I was in the seventh grade," Coach Graham told his audience, flush with emotion. The Mesquite native said he grew up weaned on Southwest Conference football. "And I get those memories of turning on the TV and watching Rice play Texas, and being so tied up in all the SWC games.
"There are faces of people in the crowd where you can see the doubt. That's fine. But two, three years from now, we'll have all those things changed, and we'll have restored the great tradition."
Todd Graham as the coach of Pitt (Charles LeClaire/US Presswire)After leading Rice to an 8-5 season, Graham bolted to Tulsa where he had been the defensive coordinator for three seasons prior to taking the Rice job. As one might expect, there was a lot of bitterness among the Rice faithful, who trusted Graham, believed his promises and saw a glimpse of how good it's football program could be. But apparently Graham misspoke when he said his dream was to coach at Rice. He actually meant Tulsa. Or at least that's what he told the Tulsa faithful.
"That was my dream, I wanted to be head coach at Tulsa," said Graham, speaking on a conference call from Kansas City, where his plane was diverted from Houston due to Friday's ice storm. "We have a heart for Tulsa."
And Graham did have a heart for Tulsa for four years in which he was 36-17 and led the Golden Hurricane to three bowls games. So there weren't too many hurt feelings when Graham, who was considered a hot coach, left Tulsa for Pitt after the Panthers first choice, former Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood, didn't work out.
However, Graham didn't have the same passion for the Pitt job as he did his previous two. He never said anything about a dream and job and while he did make the grandiose promise to "… restore the Beast from the East" and bring a 10th national championship to Pitt, it wasn't the same Graham from his previous two stops.
Perhaps that's why Graham was looking for an exit. Pitt released a statement Wednesday saying it had denied Graham's request to talk to Arizona State, a job he sought, and that it asked to sit down with Graham to talk to him about his commitment to Pitt. Obviously, only one party made it to that meeting:
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