There is no doubt that one of Graham’s first orders of business will be recruiting. Specifically speaking, salvaging Arizona State’s recruiting class which only a few weeks ago was ranked as one of the best in the Pac-12, and reach out to unsigned prospects that may have an interest in the Sun Devils.
“I think hopefully by tomorrow I'm going to be able to call them,” Graham said of ASU’s recruits. “I can't wait to talk to you. I can't wait to share with you our high octane football and our style. I can't wait to start talking to you about character and discipline that we run our program with, and I can't wait to talk to you ASAP, so sit tight, I will be calling as soon as I possibly can.”
Securing local recruits in general is another goal that the new ASU head coach looks to achieve.
“We want the best and the brightest, starts right here in Arizona, and I want to speak to the high school coaches,” Graham stated. “I consider myself a teacher, and I want the coaches to know that I'll take care of their young people, and we'll treat them with great respect, and we will help and develop them as young men of character.
“My goal for our players is to be championship citizens, to be championship fathers, to understand about perseverance and to be championship husbands that understand about integrity.”
The lack of West Cost recruiting ties isn’t an aspect that concerns Graham and one he believes can be addressed effectively.
“We've recruited, had a lot of players when I was at the University of Tulsa from California, Arizona,” Graham recalled. “We'd recruit the junior colleges here, as well, had some junior college players go to Tulsa, as well. Obviously the South and the Southwest is where I'm comfortable, and that's where my relationships are in coaching.
“Our staff will be made up of -- obviously I've been very blessed to develop some great relationships with men of character, so obviously some of them will be following me here. But we will have coaches with West Coast ties and with great experience in this conference.”
Graham feels that the offense and defensive style that he will implement in Tempe will be attractive to both current players and prospects and should ensure an easy changeover from the previous staff to his.
“It's exciting,” Graham said. “Obviously the film that I've watched from the season, especially early in the season, to have some dynamic speed at receiver and to be poised, I think, not just on offense but with where this program is right now to -- I think it makes the transition one that's smooth where you can expand instead of having to condense. So I'm excited about the level of player that we have already here and the things that have already been built and we intend on building and expanding upon them.”
“If you watch what we do (on defense), we're multiple. We were more 4-3 this year with our personnel. We had great defensive tackles, and we'll be very adaptive. The bottom line is we attack. We want speed as the -- that's the first thing that we're looking for is speed and toughness on defense, and we want to be explosive. So we will adapt to the skills and talents of the players that we have, and then we'll also -- obviously in the recruiting ranks be looking for speed in difference maker, play makers. We're really not penciled into being a 3-4. We actually were more 4-3 this last year.”
Graham said that he enjoyed meeting (by chance) quarterback Brock Osweiler, as well as some other current Sun Devil players. The ASU coach is also looking very much to also connect with former players and restoring the tradition of Arizona State.
“I need you on the sideline,” Graham implored. “I need you in the locker room. I intend on communicating with you. One of the things I do is I send out communications once a month. I want to carry on the great traditions, and I want to know them, and the only way I can do that is communicate and build a relationship with you, and I want to restore this program, and this program will be about winning championships, and we'll do it in a way that will honor and respect you.
“How will we play defense? How about let's play it like Pat Tillman and Terrell Suggs played it. That's how we're going to do it. How are we going to play offense? How about we spin that ball like Jake Plummer and Danny White? I grew up in Dallas watching Danny White play. And how about we be as tough as Randall McDaniel? That's it.
“That's all we want to do. And I want them to know that it is an honor and a privilege for me. I want them to know that I know the price that they've paid, and I am going to be calling upon them. I need their help and I need their support, and I will work hard to earn your trust and your respect.”
High octane appears to be one of Graham’s favorite phrases and one that he does use to describe his style of play and more.
“Well, obviously our offense is going to be high octane, it's going to be quick striking, explosive,” Graham commented. “Our whole deal is about explosive plays. I like to see a ball thrown down the field. People want to come and they want to watch games and I don't want you sitting in your seat. I want you standing up, and how you do that is you have explosive plays. Defense. How do we do it? We attack, put it in the left lane, hammer down, and we don't let up. That's what our program is going to be about.
“The high octane slogan speaks to how we do everything we do. It's how we walk in the building, it's how we practice, it's how we do everything that we do. It's how we play offense, defense, and that's with a passion. This game was meant to be played that way, and that's what high octane speaks to. We're wanting to play 80-plus snaps a game and we're wanting the opponent to get 65, and that's why we're high octane on every phase of the game, and that's what we're trying to do, and it gives you a great advantage.
“I think that's one of the things, it doesn't matter what offense you run, I don't care what type of offense I ran, we would be no-huddle and we would be high octane.”
One concern some of Graham’s detractors have is the fact that the Arizona State job is his fourth head coaching position in just six years, which naturally begged the question how can Graham convince the Sun Devil nation that he is here for the long haul.
“I think the only way to respond to that is just being here,” he replied. “Obviously it was, like I said earlier in the remarks, that this is a dream opportunity for our family. It's obviously the first decision I've ever made that has actually benefitted my wife and benefitted our family. I think that the only way you can do it is, like I said, I'm going to work hard to earn their trust, and I think trust is earned, so that's all I can do.”
Lack of discipline proved to the downfall of the football team in the month of November, and restoring that trait according to Graham is vital in order to win games.
“It's very simple,” Graham explained, “You get 11 guys to do what they're coached to do right the first time you ask them to do it. Our program is going to be about discipline.