The move is a stunning plot twist for both schools. Pitt will now be searching for its fourth coach in little more than a year: It fired Dave Wannstedt in December 2010, replaced him with Mike Haywood for two weeks until a confrontation with a female led to Haywood's dismissal, then hired Graham away from Tulsa. Now he's gone after 12 games for the Pac-12.
At Arizona State, Graham arrives after the school had conversations with SMU's June Jones and Houston's Kevin Sumlin. In Jones' case, a deal reportedly was agreed upon before the Sun Devils pulled the offer at the 11th hour. After 17 days of searching, ASU got its man in the form of Graham.
Pitt was a disappointing 6-6 under Graham, and it appeared at times the team – especially quarterback Tino Sunseri – struggled to transition to his offensive system after six years under Wannstedt. After starting 2-0 against soft competition, the Panthers did not win consecutive games again and finished tied for fourth in the Big East.
Graham was 43-23 at Tulsa before going to Pitt. At Tulsa, he inherited a program on the rise from Steve Kragthorpe. Graham's background is on defense, but with coordinators Gus Malzahn and Herb Hand, the Golden Hurricane had some of the most explosive offenses in the country.
[Related: College football coaching carousel]
Despite Graham's success at Tulsa, he alienated some at the school by repeatedly attempting to get other coaching jobs. After staying just one season at Pitt, that reputation only will intensify.
At Pitt, the pressure now is squarely on athletic director Steve Pederson, whose track record for football coaching hires is not good. While the AD at Nebraska, he hired Bill Callahan, a move that eventually cost them both their jobs. Since returning to Pitt, the football job has been a revolving door. If Pederson gets another chance to hire a football coach, he must get this one right.
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- Todd Graham
- Dave Wannstedt
- Mike Haywood