November 10, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham reacts to a call during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Graham Joined Twitter, Shenanigans Ensued

Let bygones be bygones. Live and let live. Water under the bridge. None of these are phrases applicable to at least a very tiny sample size of Pittsburgh Panthers faithful and assorted other college football followers, who had quite the response when former head coach Todd Graham joined Twitter.

Graham became the latest head coach to join the global social media phenomenon on Monday. Others, like LSU Tigers leader Les Miles, have been on Twitter for quite some time and established their online brands. Despite other coaches’ head starts, Graham (or more likely an Arizona State sports information department intern) tweeted an ambitious goal on Tuesday:

Pretty innocuous, right? Certainly nothing akin to Bret Bielema’s encounters with jilted Wisconsin fans. However, Graham’s newly established social media presence irked some tweeps — likely due to another tweet earlier in the day:

Ouch. Perhaps the wrong scene to paint, given the still fresh wounds from Graham’s departure. Tuesday night, old jokes were given new life and many a Twitter account was reportedly blocked:

To recap, Graham accepted the head coaching vacancy with the Arizona State Sun Devils in Dec. 2011, leaving Pitt after one largely unsuccessful season. Beyond the abbreviated nature of his tenure, Graham left Pittsburgh with plenty of hurt feelings in his wake — some of them the feelings of his former players.

In an interview with FOX Sports last spring, he called accepting the Pitt vacancy a year earlier “a mistake.” Graham’s last Tulsa team finished in the Top 25, but Graham was not Pittsburgh’s first choice to replace Dave Wannstedt. That was former Miami (Oh.) coach Mike Haywood, who was fired just 17 days after accepting the job due to a domestic violence charge.

Pitt and Graham were not the same fit that Graham has proven to be for Arizona State. The coach has shown renewed energy in his short time in the desert, leading the Sun Devils to an on-field turnaround from one of the most penalized teams in college football, to one of the least. Graham’s attitude extended off the field when he paid a special visit to a dying Sun Devil fan.

It’s not so much Graham’s departure that has garnered him such consistent criticism over the last year-and-a-half, as the way he left Pittsburgh. He reportedly sent a text message to be circulated among the players, and as you can guess, that fact made an appearance in Tuesday’s Twitter fiasco.

Of course, Pitt was not Graham’s only one-year destination. He left Rice following the 2006 season after leading the program to its first bowl game in four decades.

The Pittsburgh-Arizona State situation has gone beyond months-old coaching departures and Twitter battles. Last week, reports surfaced that Pitt running back Rushel Shell was blocked transfer from ASU, as well as Arizona. The block was likely a measure to prevent the schools, both of which have former Pitt staffers, from becoming pipeline destinations for future transfers.

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Tags: Arizona Sun Devils Football Pittsburgh Panthers Twitter

  • Joe Soriano

    My hate for Todd Graham just grew. This guy was the biggest hypocrite at Pitt, and he was the first coach to ever create problems with the Steelers (they both share facilities). Needless to say, everybody- including the Steelers organization- in Pittsburgh hates this guy. He deserves it, just acts really classes and plays behind the guise of “morality”. Great piece, Kyle.

    • Kyle Kensing

      It’s worth noting that there’s virtually zero chance of Graham actually operating the account. I also wanted to link to the piece on him meeting with a dying fan, because that’s a real high character thing for a coach to do.

      That said, it’s going to take a lot of goodwill to erase all the negative feelings that are still lingering from his Pitt run.