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A closer look at Todd Graham

Todd Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite HS, from which he graduated in 1983. He then went on to play at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was a two-time All NAIA defensive back. After graduation from East Central, Graham had a brief stint with the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL.

Graham began his coaching career in 1988 as an assistant at Poteet HS in his hometown of Mesquite. He later held head coaching positions at Carl Albert HS in Midwest City, Oklahoma, and Allen HS in Allen, Texas before becoming linebackers coach under Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia in 2001.The following season Graham was assigned to defensive co-coordinator.

In 2003, he was hired by Steve Kragthorpe as the defensive coordinator at Tulsa, where he helped guide the Golden Hurricane to two bowl games in three seasons. Graham built one of the best defensive units in C-USA and the nation before leaving the position following his third year at Tulsa for his first head coaching stint.

Graham was hired as the head coach at Rice on January 1, 2006, following the resignation of long-time coach Ken Hatfield after the Owls had finished 1-11 in 2005. At Rice, Graham raised $5.5 million for renovating Rice Stadium.

He hired former Texas quarterback Major Applewhite as his offensive coordinator, ditching the triple option Hatfield had been running with a more balanced attack. Behind quarterback Chase Clement and All-American receiverJarrett Dilliard, Rice pulled off the biggest turnaround of the 2006 season, finishing 7-5 and earning an invitation to the New Orleans Bowl, the school's first bowl game since 1960.

After serving three years as Tulsa defensive coordinator and one year as Rice head coach, Graham was introduced as Tulsa's new head football coach on January 12, 2007.

The Golden Hurricane matched a school record with 10 wins last season, finishing in impressive fashion with a 63-7 GMAC Bowl victory against Bowling Green that went down as the biggest bowl blowout ever. Graham is 17-4 so far at Tulsa and is 7-0 this season with a good shot at getting a BCS Bowl bid in his second year.

Texas-El Paso’s Mike Price has seen plenty of football in his 40 seasons of coaching, but he seemed befuddled last Saturday night after his team’s 77-35 loss at Tulsa.

“I haven’t been beat like that in a long time,” Price told reporters. “Their offense is one of the best offenses I’ve ever played against. They just do things right and make it look easy.”

The Golden Hurricane, which leads the country in scoring (56.57) and total offense (624.71 yards) a game, riddled the UTEP defense for 791 yards, of which 321 yards were rushing. The undefeated Golden Hurricane have scored 56 or more points in five of their seven wins.

Graham was recently asked if his offense was the best in the country:

"I think it is," Graham said of his offense. "That's my opinion and I'm biased probably, but I think that we've put a lot of hard work and design into this thing and it's working. We're reaping the benefits of that design, and we've got good players and we've got a good system. One of the things that makes this offense so good, the reason why I would tell you that I think it's the best in the country, is the balance that we have. Last week we rushed for 300-some yards and we threw for 400-some yards. To me, it's the balance that makes this offense second to none."

It's also the pace with which it plays. Graham said his scheme is not a no-huddle offense, it's a no-huddle team. The Golden Hurricane move at a breakneck pace that tests the conditioning of their opponents.

"You cannot get into the condition that we're in right now in a year," Graham said. "We're in our second year. When I was at West Virginia with Rich Rodriguez that's when it paid off for us. It was in year two and year three. So what I think happens during the game is that our guys go with that tempo and go fast, fast, fast and other teams just aren't used to going at that tempo. It's a great advantage for us."

Graham is currently paid $1.1 million per year and is the second highest paid coach in C-USA.

Do you think Todd Graham would be a good fit at Washington?