Todd Graham can’t leave it alone. Well, if I’m going to even pretend to be fair, there is no way to leave it alone. Any appearance or interview he does will bring up the issue of his departure from Pitt.
What FraudGraham can’t seem to stop doing is constantly changing the story. To try and drive up the drama of how bad things were for his family. Basically, to spin any tale he can to try and get sympathy.
When it started at his intro at Arizona State, he called it his latest “dream job” and pushed the idea that he was doing it in no small part because his in-laws are in Arizona. The kind of statement that even Arizona reporters and columnists said, “huh?”
Arizona State University just hired the first football coach in NCAA history who, if you believe him, changed jobs in order to move closer to his mother-in-law.
The spin quickly shifted to his wife really wanted the move to be closer to her family — and Fraud Graham would make the hard choice just for her. Which of course generated more outrage. Prior to the move, Penni Graham was a one-woman PR machine for her husband. Constantly tweeting about how much she and the family were loving Pittsburgh. Tweeting about Pirate and Pens games. Interacting with people on Twitter. Putting out photos of her kids dressed up for Halloween as the Pitt Panther. Building up a lot of goodwill that to some extent would be extended to FraudGraham.
This meant that his wife was a lying piece as well. Or that Fraud Graham was just using his wife as a shield for his actions.
That went no where. In no small part, because most of the media outside of Arizona that have dealt with Graham have seen the same act one too many times — as this blog post ostensibly defending Fraud Graham observes.
Pittsburgh certainly won the spin battle with Graham, and at the Rose Bowl, after chatting with a lot of writers, I learned that not many folks in the media feel much reason to consider Graham’s perspective on things.
When you use the same spiel everywhere and enough people can compare notes, it becomes harder to believe anything he says.
Well, no surprise that Fraud Graham is still talking — a lot — in Arizona. He has to compete in state with DickRod — who has a much more rehabilitated image — and a host of media friendly Pac-12 coaches now. Mike Leach, Steve Sarkasian, Chip Kelly, Mike Riley. Hell even Lane Kiffin knows how to schmooze the media. He’s got to win people over. So now it is still family, but Fraud Graham is now asking, “won’t anyone think about the children?”
FS Arizona: You have said that going to Pitt was a mistake. Could you elaborate?
Graham: It was not a good fit for my family. They were not happy there.
When I was at Tulsa, our president was going to retire, and that was not going to be good for me. I had three (job) opportunities, and I made the decision for football alone. It was a better job. I had three kids attending Tulsa. My daughter was a freshman cheerleader, but it was something we felt we needed to do because of what was happening at Tulsa with the president.
All three of my kids went to Pittsburgh and said, ‘I don’t want to live here, dad.’ It wasn’t because of the people. There were great people there, we worked our tail off and did some great things. I’m proud that they asked me to take over a program that had been on the front page of Sports Illustrated with the most criminalities in the country and we did some good things there, but they just didn’t like it there.
(ASU) was a deal that I did not plan. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that just came up for me. I’ve got a responsibility to my family to take care of them.
Can you picture it? The teary-eyed children hesitantly approaching their father back home, after sitting in box seats for a Penguins game earlier that day. The youngest, his lower-lip trembling as the oldest confesses their deep unhappiness.
Yes, now that his wife didn’t get him the sympathy, Fraud Graham is hiding behind his children. It’s not working.
But ASU fans can take solace in the fact that the punditry is also down on his coaching acumen after this past season. Wondering how good he really is without the right offensive coordinator. Not just his overall judgment.