Is Arizona State coach Todd Graham heading into a make-or-break year?
According to the Arizona Republic, the school isn’t giving Graham a one-year contract extension this offseason. Contract extensions are generally not the most newsy of events, but Graham has received a one-year extension in each of the past four offseasons.
Arizona State was 5-7 overall and 2-7 within the Pac-12 in 2016. It was the first time in Graham’s five seasons with the school that the Sun Devils missed a bowl game and the second-straight season that ended with seven losses after two-straight 10-win seasons.
ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson said a contract extension for Graham is not mandatory although his contract reads: “If grounds do not exist for termination for cause, ASU will ask the board to extend coach’s contract for one additional year following completion of the 2016 football season.”
Anderson said, “That’s not an automatic provision in the contract. It wasn’t rolled over because it didn’t need to be rolled over.”
The lack of an extension means Graham has four years left on his contract instead of five. In theory, he’s tied to Arizona State through the 2020 season instead of the 2021 season. But it’s worth noting that a contract’s buyout generally correlates to the years remaining on a contract.
The Sun Devils hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett this offseason in hopes of turning around a defense that was one of the worst in the country in 2016. Arizona State gave up nearly 40 points per game and allowed over 7.1 yards per play — nearly 2 yards more than the offense averaged per play.
The offense has a new coordinator too. Former Alabama assistant Billy Napier is ASU’s new offensive coordinator and former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett has transferred to Arizona State and could be the team’s Week 1 starter.
– – – – – – –