Graham criticized for ASU vote on ballot

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.”