Graham criticized for ASU vote on ballot

Todd Graham criticized for ranking ASU 20th on final coaches poll ballot despite 7-5 season.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham is taking some flak over his final ballot submission for the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, in which he ranked his Sun Devils 20th.

The vote has been criticized in a number of places, primarily because ASU did not receive any votes in the Associated Press or Harris polls. Of ASU's eight points in the coaches poll, six came from Graham and two came from Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn, who was an offensive coordinator under Graham at Tulsa and ranked the Sun Devils 24th overall.

Graham's ballot, which is listed in its entirety at right, also notably excluded USC, which like ASU finished 7-5 but beat the Sun Devils 38-17. The final regular-season coaches poll is the only one for which ballots are announced publicly.

Graham was asked Sunday why he ranked ASU 20th, and this was his response:

"Because I thought we were 20th. Obviously, you look at the schedule we played and where we finished up. You know, I've coached in other places, so I know kind of how that works, and winning the last game and the team we beat (Arizona), I just felt like that's where we should be, so that's why I voted us there."

ASU did lose two games by three points or fewer, one to eventual Pac-12 South champion UCLA, and had impressive statistical finishes in both conference and national defensive rankings. However, the general feeling seems to be that ASU as the nation's 20th-best team is quite a stretch. There were other coaches with some head-scratching votes, but none got people talking the way Graham's vote did.

Graham became a voter in the poll early this season when USC coach Lane Kiffin gave up his vote. At the time, Graham said the following about becoming a voter:

"It was an honor for them to ask me. It's something I take great responsibility in. It's something I think is really important, the integrity of that poll. It's important for us to make sure we're looking throughout the whole country. We wouldn't have taken that responsibility on if we weren't going to do a great, thorough job of it."