Todd Graham was labeled as disingenuous and a job hopper when he took off after one year with Pittsburgh for Arizona State.
Much of the criticism Graham received was merited. It’s not that Graham left the Panthers so soon — people change jobs all the time — but how he left. Graham didn’t tell his players in person he was leaving after asking them time and time again to commit to the program (and to him), and continued to bash Pitt after he left.
For that, you can understand why there was scoffing among media members every time Graham preached commitment at ASU.
But, in fairness to Graham, you have to report the good with the bad. Check out this letter sent to the Arizona Republic below about some lives Graham affected in a positive way:
I wanted to inform both The Republic and everyone in Arizona about a recent interaction I was fortunate enough to have with Arizona State University football coach Todd Graham.
A very good friend of mine, Garrett Gorzalski, was in Hospice of Arizona with a terminal illness. We contacted the ASU Athletic Department to see if there was something we could do as a tribute to him to lift his spirits in the final days.
Much to our surprise, we were immediately contacted by Coach Graham, who asked if he could come out and see Garrett personally. Despite being in LA for Pac-12 media day, he promised to come and see him as soon as he got back.
Not only did Coach come to visit, he actually led us all in a prayer for my friend as well and promised to send the game ball to us should they beat Missouri. Most people would have just responded via email.
This was a very special moment as it turned out to be one of the last we spent with Garrett. Coach Graham’s only response when questioned as to why he would show was, “That’s what we do.” He did when most don’t. Thank you.
— Patrick Lewis, Tempe
Have to applaud Graham for following through. It was a kind gesture, and one Lewis and the Gorzalski family won’t soon forget.
(Hat tip: ESPN’s Pac-12 blog)