Todd Graham has a history of picking up and leaving town when a nice job offer comes along, but Arizona State appears willing to gamble on a more long-term relationship with the head coach. Arizona State and Graham have agreed on a contract extension that will run through the 2017 season and expire June 30, 2018, according to AZCentral.com.
The contract has not become official just yet. A vote of the Arizona Board of Regents still has to approve the contract extension later this month. That vote is scheduled to take place September 26. According to AZCentral.com, the contract will give Graham a nice pay raise from $2.05 million to $2.3 million on July 1, 2014. His salary will increase $100,000 annually on January 1 through 2016 and $50,000 each following January 1.
Performance incentives? Graham has them. Graham will receive a 50 percent incentive if Arizona State wins a national championship and 25 percent for a trip to a major bowl game including the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Peach ad Fiesta Bowls. In other words, any of the College Football Playoff bowls. Arizona State will be able to terminate the contract at any time without cause, but Graham would be due the remainder of his annual salary. If Graham does accept a job elsewhere, Arizona State may be entitled to taking back $1.5 million.
So the obvious question here is whether or not Graham will be around as long as this extended contract will run. Given his track record that is a very fair question, but perhaps this is finally the job that will mark the end of the road for Graham’s coaching career. Considering each job Graham has accepted has been a step up, how much higher will Graham be able to aim? Perhaps if Graham can lead Arizona State to an undefeated season (or two), Graham’s coaching profile may have larger programs with more funding available to make some phone calls to Tempe. Realistically, that may not be the scenario Arizona State will have to worry about, and offering this much job security could be more than enough to keep Graham staying put and retiring that stigma.
Arizona State is off to a 2-0 start, although perhaps courtesy of a bizarre ending. Graham could pick up a huge victory with a win on Saturday against Stanford. The Sun devils picked up eighth wins in Graham’s first season last fall, the second highest win total for the program since 2004.