The University of Tulsa has enjoyed great success on the football field over the years, and third-year Head Coach Todd Graham has been a part of rebuilding that tradition as an assistant coach from 2003-05, and taking it to the next level as the Hurricane head coach beginning in 2007.
In his first two seasons as Tulsa's head football coach, Graham did what no other Golden Hurricane coach before him had accomplished -- post consecutive 10-win seasons, win 11 games in a season and 21 games in his first two campaigns.
Tulsa was one of just 11 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to record back-to-back 10 win seasons in 2007 and 2008. The Hurricane closed out the 2008 campaign with an 11-3 overall record after registering another lopsided victory in the GMAC Bowl over No. 22-ranked Ball State.
In those first two years, Graham led his team to an overall 21-7 record, two C-USA West Division titles, two appearances in the C-USA Championship Game and two straight appearances in the GMAC Bowl.
Graham has posted an overall 26-14 record in his three seasons as the Hurricane head coach and has posted a four-year career collegiate mark of 33-20.
Winning Championships is the attitude and goal that Graham has infused into the Tulsa football program, and what he has accomplished in his short tenure has made the nation take notice.
Former Tulsa head coach and recent College Football Hall of Fame inductee John Cooper is one who has recognized Graham's knowledge and success.
"I don't think I can say enough good things about Todd Graham," Cooper told the Tulsa World. "If I was named the head coach of some school tomorrow, I would send my entire coaching staff down to Tulsa to learn a few things. I really believe TU's football staff is on the cutting edge of what is going on in college football these days."
Tulsa's 10+ wins in back-to-back seasons are just the sixth and seventh times in school history that the Hurricane has posted 10 victories or more. The 2008 season was also the second straight year that the Hurricane led the nation in total offense.
In 2007, Tulsa had the nation's top offense as the Hurricane led the country in total offense with a 543.9-yard average per game, while setting 29 school records, 15 C-USA marks and four NCAA records. In 2008, the Hurricane averaged another nation-leading 569.9 yards per game, while scoring the second-most points nationally with a 47.1 average and also ranking fifth for rushing (268.0) and ninth for passing (301.8).
Tulsa's 661 points in 2008 was a school record, and the second-most in the modern era of the NCAA, second only to Oklahoma's 2008 total of 716 points.
When the Tulsa head coaching position was vacant following the 2002 season, Todd Graham sent in his application. But it was not until five years later that Graham would take over the reigns as the Golden Hurricane head coach.
He did come to Tulsa for the 2003 season, but as the Hurricane assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under first-year coach Steve Kragthorpe. However, Graham's blueprint on the program was evident as he built one of the best defensive units in Conference USA and the nation before leaving the position following his third year at Tulsa.
After a year away, Graham was introduced as The University of Tulsa's new head football coach on January 12, 2007, becoming the 27th head football coach in Golden Hurricane history.
Following the 2005 campaign, Graham left the Tulsa program to become the head coach at Rice University a day after helping the Hurricane post an impressive win and outstanding defensive performance against Fresno State in the 2005 AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
At Rice, he led the Owls to an overall 7-6 record and the school's first bowl berth in 45 years, thus earning Conference USA Coach of the Year honors. After beginning the season with an 0-4 mark, Graham led a turnaround that saw the Owls win seven of its next nine games, including six straight, thus earning him Conference USA Coach of the Year honors as selected by the news media.
Graham has played major roles in reversing the fortunes of struggling programs, starting with his first college coaching job at East Central University in Ada, Okla. His three seasons as the Tigers' defensive coordinator saw ECU improve from a break-even program to the NAIA national championship in 1993.
As head coach and athletics director at Allen (Texas) High School, Graham led a program that had no district wins in the year prior to his arrival to five playoff berths in six seasons.
At West Virginia University, under Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, Graham helped the Mountaineers improve from a 3-8 mark to a 9-4 record in his second season. At Tulsa under Kragthorpe, the Hurricane jumped from 1-11 in 2002 prior to his arrival, to an 8-4 record in '03. Both the WVU and Tulsa turnarounds were the best in NCAA Division I in those seasons.
In each of his three seasons (2003-05) as Tulsa's defensive coordinator, the Hurricane ranked among the nation's top-25 in pass defense and showed continual improvement in all areas defensively. Nationally, the Tulsa defense ranked third in takeaways and interceptions, 11th in pass defense efficiency, 17th in pass defense, 40th in total defense and 43rd in scoring defense for the 2005 campaign.
Before the 2003 season, Graham spent two years as an assistant coach at West Virginia, while serving as co-defensive coordinator, defensive scheme coordinator and safeties coach in 2002, and where he coached the linebackers during the 2001 season. In 2002, the Mountaineer defense ranked 33rd nationally in total defense and 30th in rush defense. He helped WVU register a 9-4 record with wins over nationally ranked Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh in 2002.
Before his move back to the collegiate ranks, Graham was highly successful at Allen High School in his six years (1995-2000). His teams made five playoff appearances and won two bi-district championships. In 2000, Allen posted a 9-3 record and captured the 5A Division II bi-district title while defeating four teams ranked among the top-10 in the state of Texas.
Previously, he was the head coach at Carl Albert (Okla.) High School in 1994, ranking 10th in the state's final class 5A poll.
From 1988-90, Graham was an assistant coach at Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, where those teams compiled a 25-5 record.
A native of the Dallas-Forth Worth area, Graham was an all-state defensive back at North Mesquite High School. He went on to play at East Central University, where he was a two-year NAIA All-America defensive back and three-time all-conference performer. He signed as a free agent with the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals.
Graham earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in education at East Central University. He and his wife, Penni, have six children: Bo, Natalie, Hank, Haylee, Dakota and Michael Todd Jr.
THE TODD GRAHAM FILE PERSONAL Birthdate: December 5, 1964 Birthplace: Mesquite, Texas Family: wife, Penni, and six children, Bo, Hank, Natalie, Haylee, Dakota and Michael Todd Jr.
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