When Todd Graham took over the Arizona State Football program in 2012, he took over a team riddled with problems. Most of these problems didn’t involve the level of talent though. Graham inherited talented players like Brandon Magee, Will Sutton, Cameron Marshall and Alden Darby. The Sun Devils in 2011 led the Pac-12 in penalties. After Graham’s first season was complete, the Devils were last in penalty yards.
During Dennis Erickson’s tenure at Arizona State, the team was known for not graduating its players and having a terrible work ethic. Under Graham, the team has had its highest team GPA in years and has been working hard under an entirely new strength and conditioning program.
Even the injured players aren’t spared as Graham brought “muscle beach” to Tempe with him. “Muscle beach” is the nickname for where the injured players must work out during practices. While their teammates are sweating and working, the injured players are doing push-ups or slamming a huge tire with a sledge hammer off to the side. Ideas like this breed good working habits.
Character and discipline goes much further than wins and losses. It prepares the current Sun Devils to go out in the community after they graduate. The tough work ethic and importance of family that Graham promotes in his program will lead to these players growing up to be great future fathers and husbands.
It just so happens that when an entire program believes in the same vision of character and discipline, wins come naturally. Winning is what has been happening ever since Graham stepped foot in the desert. He has an 18-9 record in two years and won the Pac-12 South last year. I think he is onto something here.
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