Arizona State fires football coach Graham after 6 seasons

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State fired coach Todd Graham after six seasons on Sunday despite a win over rival Arizona.

The Sun Devils (7-5, 6-2 Pac-12) are bowl eligible and finished second in the Pac-12 South behind Southern California after rallying to beat the Wildcats 42-30 on Saturday, but the program is not on the trajectory athletic director Ray Anderson wanted. Graham and his staff will remain with the program through Arizona State’s bowl game.

”From the moment he arrived in Tempe, Todd helped change the culture and emphasized the student in student-athlete here at Arizona State, elevating the program to unprecedented heights in the classroom and strong citizenship across the board,” Anderson said in a statement. ”However, our athletic department, university and community expect our football program to compete on the field for Pac-12 titles, be competitively consistent and qualify to participate in major bowl games on a regular basis. In evaluating Todd’s body of work over a four-year period, it became clear that a change is necessary.”

Graham, 52, has three seasons left on a contract that runs through the 2020 season and is owed $12 million. A search for his replacement begins immediately.

Graham had immediate success in the desert after leaving Pittsburgh, leading the Sun Devils to three straight bowls and a pair of 10-win seasons. Arizona State played in the Cactus Bowl in 2015 but lost that game and finished with a losing record (6-7).

The Sun Devils took another step back last season, finishing 5-7 behind a defense that ranked among the worst in FBS.

Arizona State struggled to open the 2017 season, laboring to get past New Mexico State before losing to San Diego State and Texas Tech. The Sun Devils have had some impressive wins, beating No. 24 Oregon, No. 5 Washington and Utah in a span of four weeks.

The Sun Devils clinched bowl eligibility with last week’s road win over Oregon State.

Arizona State was blown out by Arizona 56-35 last season after the Wildcats rushed for a school-record 511 yards. The Sun Devils came back from a 10-point deficit to beat the Wildcats this year, but it wasn’t enough to save Graham’s job.

”We are committed to turning Sun Devil Football into an elite program and competing nationally on a consistent basis,” Anderson said.

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