The Arizona State football team hasn’t won the Rose Bowl since 1987. If head coach Todd Graham has his way, that’ll change in 2014.
Since players arrived for spring practices, Graham has been hammering home the idea that the Sun Devils should be aiming for nothing less than a Rose Bowl appearance. He’s so set on making it to college football’s biggest stage that he even placed a poster of the bowl’s coveted trophy on the sideline during the team’s first spring practice.
“The biggest thing for us is to look forward, we did not have a great season,” Graham said. “We had a little above average season, we just hung in there. We’ve got to win six more ball games to win fourteen games, win five more conference games to win the conference championship. We’ve got to win six games to win the Rose Bowl, we have to win five more conference games and one more win, to win the Rose Bowl. That’s what I want them to understand.”
After only one season as Arizona State’s head honcho, Graham is going to long lengths to change the mentality of the football program. In only one year, he has drastically improved the conditioning, discipline and output of his players while setting the type of tone that you’d expect from an annual contender.
“I told [the players], ‘it’s the 100th anniversary of the Rose Bowl,’” Graham said. “That’s where the national championship game is at. I told them I grew up watching the Rose Bowl on a 13-inch black-and-white TV in Dallas, Texas, listening to Keith Jackson. Granddaddy of them all, I said, ‘Every day, man, that’s how we got to work. Today, we [have to] work harder than the other 11 teams in the league.’”
A trip to the Rose Bowl is a lofty goal for a team coming off of an 8-5 season during which they finished third in the PAC-12 South. With a tremendous amount of talent and a head coach unwilling to settle for mediocrity, though, nothing is out of the question.