- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Well, you knew it was only a matter of time before Todd Graham started to put a spin on the real reason he left Pittsburgh. The fallout after he ditched the Panthers following a 6-6 season was a complete PR disaster for the new Arizona State coach.
So take a moment to think about what he could say to make all this seem totally right.
Think about the kids.
Yes, the kids.
Graham said several times that family played a huge role in why he left, citing his wife. But he went a little bit more in depth in an extended interview with Craig Morgan of FOXSportsArizona.com:
All three of my kids went to Pittsburgh and said, 'I don't want to live here, dad.' It wasn't because of the people. There were great people there, we worked our tail off and did some great things. I'm proud that they asked me to take over a program that had been on the front page of Sports Illustrated with the most criminalities in the country and we did some good things there, but they just didn't like it there.
(ASU) was a deal that I did not plan. It was an opportunity of a lifetime that just came up for me. I've got a responsibility to my family to take care of them.
But wait. There's more. Morgan asked whether it bothers Graham that his job hopping is a persistent topic of conversation, even though college football coaches leave their jobs for new opportunities all the time.
Nobody has ever asked me what kind of deal I got here versus what I had (at Pitt). Nobody's asked me what kind of commitment I had there -- half the commitment I have here. Who would not take that opportunity? Everything about this made sense if you sat down and looked at it for your family, for your future, for your finances. Everything. There was no comparison.
And then you have to remember that we wanted to be here pretty bad. That's the scariest thing I've ever done -- to resign my job. I'm not making a minimum-wage job. I took a great risk and I could have ruined my whole career. You're never going to please everybody, but when I look in the mirror every day, I know I did what was best for my family, and I've tried to do things the right way everywhere I've been.
Never mind that Pitt allowed him to completely remodel the entire football offices at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Pitt paid him roughly the same as he will be making at Arizona State. Pitt gave him his first job at an AQ school after the Mike Haywood debacle. His wife routinely was on Twitter, connecting with Pitt fans and sending out out pics of their family and kids enjoying life in Pittsburgh.
Graham is clearly playing defense here. He says in the interview, "Look, we knew we would get our head kicked in for doing this -- for coming here and leaving Pitt." But I don't think he realized just how negative the reaction would be when he left, so he is doing his best to explain.
I still don't think anybody outside of Arizona is buying what he's selling.