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January 10, 2011

Thanks to Michael Franklin and Chelsey Rovesti

Big thanks to Michael Franklin for the idea,  Chelsey Rovesti for executing it, and both of them for the permission to use the image.

The press conference is scheduled for 3:30 pm on Tuesday. Presumably it will be streamed live on Pitt’s website.

I won’t lie. I am extremely curious to see how AD Pederson dances around the Haywood stuff. I’m guessing the focus on Graham will be on his on-the-field success. Not his integriy, discipline and intangibles.

The other thing that I will be curious to hear. His staff. Already rumors that he is bringing a bunch of his Tulsa staff and/or guys that worked for DickRod at WVU/Michigan.

In case you haven’t gotten the official press release from Pitt:

Widely regarded as one of the finest offensive coaches in the country, Todd Graham today was named the head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh by Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Graham will be formally introduced at a news conference on Tuesday, January 11.

Graham comes to Pitt after a highly successful head coaching tenure at Tulsa, where in four years he had three 10-win campaigns and three bowl victories. He compiled a 36-17 overall record with the Golden Hurricane, including a 10-3 mark this year highlighted by a 28-27 victory at Notre Dame and decisive 62-35 win over 24th-ranked Hawai’i in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl. Tulsa’s win over Notre Dame was called the biggest upset of the year by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.

Prolific offenses have been Graham’s hallmark. Under his direction, Tulsa led the nation in total offense twice (2007 and 2008) and ranked fifth this year. While he has a well-deserved reputation for devising high-octane offensive game plans, the 46-year-old coach built his career on defense and has also distinguished himself as a defensive coordinator and position coach.

This will be Graham’s third collegiate head coaching appointment. In addition to Tulsa, he served as the head coach at Rice for one season (2006), leading the Owls to their first bowl game in 45 years and earning Conference USA Coach of the Year honors. Graham’s career head coaching record is 43-23 and includes four bowls in five seasons.

“We are thrilled that Todd Graham has agreed to become the head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pederson. “His innovative, creative and energized approach to football makes him an exciting leader for our program. He has a proven track record of success at all levels of football and his wealth of experience on both sides of the ball gives him a unique set of credentials.

“The outstanding job he has done at Tulsa – double-digit win totals in three of the past four seasons and an undefeated bowl record – has been noticed across the country. I know he is excited to meet his new team and the great people of Pittsburgh.”

“My family and I are honored to join such a prestigious university and rich football tradition like the University of Pittsburgh,” said Graham, who becomes the 35th head coach in Pitt football history. “Pittsburgh is a tremendous football city with great fans. We will work diligently every day to earn their respect and build a program that competes for and wins championships. I’m also excited to return to the Big East, a conference that plays tremendous football.”

Graham’s 2010 Tulsa team rolled up 505.6 yards per game to rank fifth nationally and averaged 41.4 points to rank eighth. The Golden Hurricane also took exceptional care of the football, ranking second in the country in turnover margin (plus 17).

Under Graham’s watch, All-America all-purpose player Damaris Johnson was one of the most exciting performers in college football. The 5-foot-8 dynamo led the country in all-purpose yards for the second consecutive year (202.2 yards/game in 2010) and established himself as the NCAA’s career leader in that category with 7,796.

“I don’t think I can say enough good things about Todd Graham,” said College Hall of Fame coach John Cooper, who formerly coached at Tulsa as well as Ohio State and Arizona State. “If I was named the head coach of some school tomorrow, I would send my entire coaching staff down to Tulsa to learn a few things. I really believe TU’s football staff is on the cutting edge of what is going on in college football these days.”

In Graham’s first two seasons as Tulsa’s head coach, the Golden Hurricane made program history by posting consecutive 10-win seasons and winning a school-record 11 games in 2008. He went 21-7 his first two years, the best start by a Tulsa coach ever. Tulsa was one of just 11 schools on the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level to achieve back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, Tulsa led the country in total offense, averaging 543.9 yards per game, and set 29 school records, 15 Conference USA marks and four NCAA records. The Golden Hurricane routed Bowling Green, 63-7, in the GMAC Bowl, the largest bowl margin of victory in NCAA history.

In 2008, Tulsa again led the country in total offense (569.9 avg.) while ranking second in scoring (47.1 points/game), fifth in rushing (268.0 yards/game) and ninth in passing (301.8 yards/game). Graham’s team finished with an 11-3 record, capped by a 45-13 victory over 22nd-ranked Ball State in the GMAC Bowl.

Tulsa’s 661 points in 2008 established a school record and marked the second highest single-season total in the modern era of the NCAA (second only to Oklahoma’s 2008 total of 716 points).

Before elevating to head coach at Tulsa, Graham served as its assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 2003-05. The 2005 team finished with a 9-4 record, captured the Conference USA title and shut down a high-flying Fresno State team, 31-24, in the Liberty Bowl. Graham’s defense ranked among the nation’s top 40 in five categories, including takeaways (third), interceptions (third), pass efficiency defense (11th), pass defense (17th) and total defense (40th).

Taking over as head coach at Rice in 2006, Graham led the Owls to a 7-6 record and the school’s first bowl berth in 45 years. That historic success earned him Conference USA Coach of the Year honors. Rice began the year 0-4 before reeling off victories in seven of its next nine games, including six consecutive wins.

Graham broke into the collegiate coaching ranks as defensive coordinator at East Central University (1991-93) in Oklahoma, where his work as defensive coordinator helped transform the Tigers from a .500 program to NAIA national champions in his final year.

During the 2001 and 2002 seasons, Graham served at West Virginia under Rich Rodriguez and helped the Mountaineers achieve the biggest turnaround in college football over that period, improving from 3-8 to 9-4. After coaching WVU’s linebackers his first season, Graham was promoted to co-defensive coordinator, defensive scheme coordinator and safeties coach. The 2002 Mountaineers forced 34 turnovers, including 19 interceptions, and ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin (plus 19).

From 1995-2000, Graham distinguished himself in the ultra-competitive Texas high school ranks as both a head coach and athletic director. As head coach at Allen High School, he led a program that had no district wins the year prior to his arrival to five playoff berths in six seasons. His final year, Allen posted a 9-3 record and captured the 5A Division II bi-district title while defeating four teams ranked among the top 10 in the state of Texas.

A native of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite High School. He went on to play at East Central University in Oklahoma, where he was a two-time NAIA All-America defensive back and three-time all-conference performer.

Graham earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1987 from ECU before signing a free agent contract with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. He later earned his masters degree, also in education, from ECU.

He and his wife Penni have six children: Bo, Natalie, Hank, Haylee, Dakota and Michael Todd Jr.





“The spread is not the answer for a blue collar city.. We need to run the ball and punch people in the face…” And continue to lose games that are winnable when you have more talent but are out-coached by more innovative teams. What type of city Pittsburgh is should have no effect on the offense they run, that is absolutely ludicrous. I would rather have a championship winning team then a team that tries to implement a system that fits a culture and fails.

Again one example of a spread failing (even though Michigan did improve each year) does not prove the spread fails. It works countless places. This Michigan example needs to stop being brought up.

This season was a major league disappointment, if you are happy with a team that tries to “run the ball and punch people in the face” and then gets smacked back even harder, has no response, and loses to less talented teams important game after important game then yes, lets keep the power offense, run the ball when 9 guys stack the box, keep Dave Wannstedt on the sidelines and be happy with 4 loss seasons when we have more talent then the rest of the league.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 01.11.11 @ 2:05 pm

Just my opinion, again — 1) I don’t give a crap if Pitt ever has a player go to the NFL as long as they help contribute to winning games for Pitt. Pitt should not be a farm club to the NFL. 2) For those complainers about Graham moving on after a few successful years at Pitt; well, I remember quite well when Pitt won the National Championship in 1976 and it’s coach bolted to Tenn several days after the national championship game. Leaving Pitt high-and-dry in ’76 didn’t hurt the program, $$ did. 3) Pitt can be a destination for top-level coaches if it plans properly or it can continue to be a stop-over for the next highly motivated gun-slinger looking to better his resume and $$ situation. 4) Regardless of the outcome of 1 through 3 above, I’ll always bleed blue and gold. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 01.11.11 @ 2:06 pm

It’s no nice to see that all the Graham bashers have another thing in common — they all have crystal balls. How do we know what this guy is capable or not capable of doing until they kick the ball off next season? Give Todd Graham a chance. We were going to give Haywood a chance, and his resume was a lot thinner than Graham’s. He may not have a great recruiting class at this late date, but there is talent coming back. I for one, am excited to see what he can do to coach these players up, bring some excitement back to Pitt football, and most of all, win some football games.

Comment by Scott 78 01.11.11 @ 2:47 pm

wow…cdmoore, thank you for showing the logic that ruined pitt and hired foge fazio

“DeVanzo,
We were 8-5.. Isnt that winning??”
NOPE
we were 5-2 in the worst BCS conference in football. we went 2-3 in the non conference, 0-3 against real teams
we went 0-3 against teams that did not finish ranked, and went 1-2 in bowl games. the one win coming because two played each other, and somebody had to win that pillow fight

“We were tied for 1st place in the big east. We won our bowl game and the big east had a winning record in the bowl season… Im sorry…. ”
AHAHAHAHA come on!!!! The big east played NOBODY in the bowl season. Oh wait, we played a team that went 2-5 in the SEC… BIG EAST > SEC!!! we would have lost by 40 to Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, etc etc etc. UCONN got blown out by Oklahoma. WVU got blown out my friggin NC STATE!!
The big east had ZERO ranked teams, and rightfully so. Conference USA had two teams!!! UCF>Big east this year… wake up!!!!

“If we dont go on a uconn women’s basketball win streak we arent winners..:”
that joke wasnt funny

“Questions- How excited were you about Pitt football this preseason?”
VERY… this team had 10-2 or 11-1 talent against its putrid pathetic easy schedule

“I betcha you were so excited that you were blinded by the glaring holes we had that Zeise highlighted… Zeise called this- 8-5 or 11-2 – 11-2 if everything went well which it didnt and never will…”
PLEASE WANNY APOLOGISTS LISTEN UP!!! THIS IS WHERE YOU FALL FLAT ON YOUR FACES!!!!
pick one….
a – the team was weak and we shouldnt have expected to do so well
-then he should have been fired for gaining zero ground in 6 years and regressing from where walt had us
b – the team was really really good and he underperformed as coach countless times in countless games and the team massively underachieved for its talent level
-then he should be fired for being a terrible coach

wow that was easy

“Auburn got lucky and got the Number 1 qb..”
you know absolutely nothing about college football… that defense is stacked wtih NFL talent and their d-line played an incredible game including a goal line stand from the 2 that probably won the game… oh, and a safety
wow dude… you are clueless

“Oregon played ONE team Stanford.”
SO HOW MANY TEAMS DID PITT PLAY THEN???
Because Oregon was 6-1 against the top 30 according to Sagarin
link to usatoday.com
pitt was 0-2 hahaha
please define TEAM as you mean it here… come on, list for me 10 teams you think were worthwhile? got some big east ones on there haha

“TCU was the best team this year and they arent consider winners…”
possibly, thats the fault of the BCS system and has ZERO relevance to the flawed argument you are fumbling through

“The spread is not the answer for a blue collar city.. We need to run the ball and punch people in the face… That wont happen with the spread…”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
thats why we went 7-5 in a joke conference and lost countless games to inferior… Bowling Green, Ohio, UConn, Utah, Navy, NC State etc etc (and yes, Utah wasnt that good… please look at their last 4 games)

“BTW- You werent proud of our team this year?? I thought they did very well. Yes, losses hurt but they happen.”
Nope they played like cowards in the biggest game of the year… quit in the WVU game during 3rd quarter, never seen anything like that. They pouted, played undisciplined, yelled at each other, talked trash in crucial game situations (Uconn tino), and didnt look like a team until wanny was gone for UK game

“To answer your question- I want our young men to have every opportunity to win, grow as player, student, man and also extend their football career. If the NFl converts to spread than I am all for it..”
So we should be a farm team for the NFL?
This team was not disciplined on or off the field… you are delusional
Walt had just as much NFL success as Wanny with half the arrests

“Did you enjoy watching Michigan this year? That was bad sandlot football..”
wow got me there… indictment for whole spread system

right back at you with Auburn and Oregon

“BTW- We havent won a national championship in many years so I am happy with a winning record, players graduating and playing in the pros.. Oh yeah, i really enjoy hearing nfl players claiming Pitt Panthers as their college…”
Who says that the most?
Revis? who walt recruited
Larry? who played for Walt
Joe Flacco? who was recruited by Walt but….
Lousaka Polite? who played for Walt
Andy Lee? who played for Walt
etc etc etc
Ill give Wanny LeSean McCoy… but dont think he had anything to do wtih pitt success in the NFL

My facts > your feelings…. be rational pitt fans… the wanny years were a sad time… 4 crap bowls and no real success (insert Bigguy yelling about the 2009 delusional 10 win cupcake season)

Comment by DeVanzo 01.11.11 @ 3:06 pm

DeVanzo, WOW! You have passion for Pitt football, I like that. Remember, college football is big business and $$ talks. I believe Pitt is on the right pay scale to elevate its football program. With you as a fan, we will have a winning program. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 01.11.11 @ 3:30 pm

DeVanzo,

Let’s say you are 100% correct. We are on in a weak conference and should have won the BCS bid the last 2 or 3 seasons. Given this, by what standard do you judge the next 3 seasons? Or even the next season?

I fully support the goal of winning the Big East every year and think VTech is an aspirational model for winning a weak conference every year. But what I think is missing from this discussion is why the so-called Wannstedt apologists were against the coaching change. It’s not the belief that Wannstedt was Urban Meyer but that Pitt was unwilling to invest in the program to bring it to the next level, and Wannstedt was a good return on a small investment.

We fired an underpaid coach who was producing 9 win seasons the last three years and went with Haywood. Now we are paying double to Graham. I hope he succeeds because I am a Pitt guy. But the underlying point is that Pitt (possibly just Pederson) exposed itself as talking about having a top tier program but really did not want to do anything to actually achieve that. If they had not been cheap, Pitt would have hired Graham in December and avoided the entire Haywood debacle.

Again, I want Graham to succeed. I want Pitt to invest in a winning program. I just remain skeptical that he will win any more than Wannstedt did. The standard by which I judge the next three years is 28 wins and a BCS berth. I hope we get there.

Comment by matt42 01.11.11 @ 3:40 pm

Michigan’s offense wasn’t a failure, it was Richrod’s defense that failed him.

Michigan was ranked 9th in total offense and Tulsa was ranked 8th in total offense. This team WILL put points on the board.

Comment by TJ 01.11.11 @ 3:48 pm

@cdmoore25 “the BCS Championship game was boring” WTF??!! That game had it all! Tough defenses on both sides of the ball, unpredictable play calling, turnovers, the Heisman winner playing and the winning score at the buzzer on the last play of the game. If that game was boring for you then you must really have enjoyed watching Pitt this year. How many code blues did you have to be shocked back from a certain death from due to watching the accumulated bunch of underacheiving BS put together by Wanny this year? Talk about watching grass grow BORING. Looking forward to what the new coach can bring to the table.

Comment by Dr. Tom 01.11.11 @ 5:34 pm

Cam Saddler on the Fan right now, sitting w Ray Graham. They’re both stoked about graham.

Graham: all fell right in to it. We love to put points on the board.

Coach Graham came from the heart, like Hafley.

Graham says we’re related (lots of guffaws)

Ray: just try to stay focused over the last mo. Wanny a great, great person.

We’re ready to get this thing going. Everone in lockerroom fired up.

Q: no huddle? whatever it takes to win. Coach is going to get us over the edge

Q of Cam: The most excited person on the team. Was considering WVU

“A great day to be a Panther”

(They’re clearly psyched)

Comment by steve 01.11.11 @ 5:54 pm

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