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.
Illinois has extended year-long interim head coach Bill Cubit for another two seasons, the program announced Saturday afternoon. Does that make him a short-term full-time head coach or a long-term interim coach? Or a combination of the two?
Either way, Cubit is in Champaign to stay through the 2017 season.
A mitigating factor here, undoubtedly, is the absence of a full-time chancellor and a full-time athletics director.
“Bill has stepped in during an extremely difficult period and done an outstanding job in leading our football program since August,” interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk said in a statement. “Our student-athletes have responded in a positive manner and we feel he is the best person at this time to be the head coach. We wanted to allow Bill to make decisions regarding the program as the head coach without the interim title, and lead the Fighting Illini into Saturday’s game without speculation.”
Cubit’s extended contract will pay him $1.2 million annually. Former Illini head coach Tim Beckman made a reported $1.8 million.
“During the past three months, Coach Cubit has led this team with a steady and experienced hand,” interim chancellor Barbara Wilson said. “He has earned respect and appreciation from all of us. This move will allow the permanent Athletics Director to evaluate the program at his or her own schedule and make decisions based on those evaluations once that search is completed.”
Illinois is 5-6 this season, playing to extend its season at home against No. 16 Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Confirming what was reported earlier this week, Tulane announced Saturday morning it had relieved head coach Curtis Johnson of duties.
Johnson closed his four-year tenure with a 45-34 loss to Tulsa Friday night, a game where the Green Wave led midway though the fourth quarter but were undone by two pick-sixes. He closes his run with a 15-34 record, peaking with a 7-6 mark and a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning only eight games in his other three seasons.
“I want to thank CJ for his hard work and his dedication to rebuilding the Green Wave football program,” Tulane AD Rick Dickson said in a statement. “His efforts were rewarded in 2013 when Tulane reached its first bowl in 11 years. Since then, however, the program has not progressed to the level that we aspire to.”
Similar to Illinois, Central Florida and possibly Rutgers, Tulane says it will find a replacement for Dickson (who originally said he’d step down mid-2016) before finding a new head coach.
Many assume Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood won’t survive this disappointing and scandal-ridden fourth season of his. But it could be his boss, the highly controversial Julie Hermann, that receives the ax first.
According to a report from Keith Sargeant of NJ.com, Hermann could see her 30-month tenure end as soon as this weekend.
“Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is expected to meet with university President Robert Barchi before the end of the weekend, three people familiar with the situation told NJ Advance Media on Friday,” Sargeant wrote. “The meeting, presumably called by Barchi, is the first evidence the university’s administration is preparing to act.”
Sargeant writes that Hermann has been kept in the dark while the university conducts a top-to-bottom investigation into the football program’s compliance efforts. Flood was suspended three games and fined $50,000 earlier this season for overriding the church-state relationship between football and academics.
The results of that investigation could find Rutgers joining the ranks of Illinois and Central Florida among schools looking to hire an AD and head football coach at the same time.
“The futures of Flood and Hermann could hang on a report being compiled by the university’s office of enterprise risk management, ethics and compliance,” wrote Sargeant. “The report is expected to detail allegations of failed drug tests and other issues that could result in NCAA infractions and possible sanctions, multiple people familiar with the situation have told NJ Advance Media.”
In addition to a losing season on the field, Rutgers football has dealt with drug suspensions and player arrests off the field this fall.
A 40-23 loss to Boise State Friday condemned San Jose State to a third straight bowl-less season, but Spartans AD Gene Bleymaier said afterwards the setback would not result in a change in job status for head coach Ron Caragher.
“There’s no question about his status,” Bleymaier told the Contra Costa Times. “Ron’s our coach, and he’ll be our coach going forward.”
Hired away from San Diego to replace the departed Mike MacIntyre, Caragher is just 14-22 in three seasons leading the Spartans.
San Jose State did go 6-6 in his debut season of 2013 but did not garner a bowl invite.