A Gesture from Todd Graham to a Dying Fan

Sept. 22, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham speaks to the crowd inside Wells Fargo Arena as mascot Sparky looks on prior to the game against the Utah Utes. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A letter to the editor published in Thursday’s Arizona Republic recounts the noble gesture Todd Graham made to a dying Arizona State Sun Devils fan.

Graham is a frequent target for criticism, stemming from his abrupt and messy departure from the Pitt Panthers in December 2011. The coach offered explanations — mea culpa isn’t the most accurate descriptor — in various interviews since arriving at Arizona State.

Inheriting a program that led the Bowl Subdivision in penalties during the 2011 campaign, Graham emphasized qualities like accountability and character, which only exacerbated sentiment against him.

Skeptical as Graham detractors may be, a noteworthy stat from the Sun Devils’ first season under his leadership is that ASU was the 10th least penalized in the nation at 4.23 flags per game for just under 35 yards. A year prior, Arizona State was flagged eight times a game for almost 80 yards.

Of greater significance than game conduct is the identity a coach promotes off the field. The story detailed in the above Arizona Republic account is truly indicative of character, and the kind of example a coach should set for his players.

High profile coaches and athletes can positively impact their communities through their celebrity. The Sun Devil in this story died, but undoubtedly the positivity Todd Graham could bring him for just 90 minutes will continue on through family and friends.

Topics: Arizona State Sun Devils, Football

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