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Graham Leaves Pittsburgh After One Season to Coach Arizona State Football

Todd Graham was hired as Arizona State University’s new football coach, leaving the University of Pittsburgh searching for its fourth coach in 13 months.

Graham, who left the University of Tulsa to take the Pittsburgh job in January, replaces Dennis Erickson as coach of the Sun Devils. Arizona State lost its final four games of the 2011 regular season after a 6-2 start.

“In Todd, we have not only hired a young and sitting head coach, but one with a history of success on the field and in hiring top-notch assistant coaches,” Arizona State Athletic Director Lisa Love said in a statement. “We are excited to watch coach Graham take over a very well-positioned program and elevate it to the next level.”

Pittsburgh hired Graham before this season, nine days after Michael Haywood was fired following his arrest on a domestic violence charge. Haywood had replaced Dave Wannstedt, who resigned Dec. 7 after six seasons at his alma mater.

Graham guided the Panthers to a 6-6 mark in his only season. The school recently announced plans to leave the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Before taking over at Pittsburgh, Graham had a 36-17 record in four years at Tulsa, with three bowl victories and three 10- win seasons.

Tulsa led the nation in total offense twice during Graham’s tenure and ranked fifth overall in 2010, when the Golden Hurricane went 10-3, including a win at Notre Dame and a 27- point victory against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. Graham also spent one season as coach at Rice University, leading the school to its first bowl appearance in 45 years.

Graham resigned as Pittsburgh’s coach in a text message that he asked Blair Philbrick, the school’s assistant athletic director, to forward to the team. He cited family reasons for his decision.

“Coaching there has always been a dream of ours and we have family there,” Graham said of the Arizona State job, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The timing of the circumstances have prohibited me from telling you this directly.”

Graham will coach Arizona State when it faces Boise State in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas on Dec. 22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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