TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State coach Todd Graham has garnered attention for his extensive pregame routines that range from on-field walks to locker room air fresheners on the road to make it smell more like home. On Monday, he revealed perhaps his quirkiest pregame measure.
“The only big kind of ritual I have is I eat a hot dog,” Graham said. “I have always done this, and I’ll tell you, I’ve had some great hot dogs. … And then I have the stadium’s popcorn. I’ve done that everywhere.”
Graham said that for home games, he typically sends a graduate assistant out to a donor’s tailgate to find a hot dog or bratwurst. On the road, the sausage is usually acquired in the stadium.
In seven years as a head coach, Graham has had some good hot dogs — and probably a few bad ones — all over the country, but he still remembers the best.
“I tell people the best hot dog I’ve ever had is, in the north end zone, there’s a little hot dog stand at Notre Dame,” Graham said. “It’s unbelievable. There’s a pretty good hot dog at Army, too. Florida State’s got a pretty good brat.”
The bad news for Graham: ASU’s scheduled game in South Bend in 2017 was scrapped as part of a deal that secured next season’s meeting between the teams in Tempe, a matchup Notre Dame had tried to drop. So there are no north-end-zone franks in Graham’s near future — unless the Irish bring one along in 2014.
Graham, who lost about 30 pounds in the offseason, also joked about whether his tradition fits within his new diet. But considering he’s won just about everywhere he’s gone, we’re willing to bet he downs at least 12 more this season, with hopes of a 14th in Pasadena.
“My coaches come in and see me eating a hot dog and popcorn and they kind of look at me (funny),” Graham joked. “But I want them to see that I’m confident and relaxed. That’s really the only ritual that I have.”
No word on Graham’s preferred toppings. He’ll have his first dog of the season Thursday when ASU hosts Sacramento State.