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Nation, World Sports

Arizona State fires football coach Todd Graham after 6 seasons

| Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, 12:06 p.m.
Head coaches Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats and Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils shake hands following the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 42-30  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Head coaches Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats and Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils shake hands following the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 42-30 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham holds up the territorial cup after defeating Arizona 42-30 during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov 25, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham holds up the territorial cup after defeating Arizona 42-30 during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov 25, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches from the sidelines during the first half of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches from the sidelines during the first half of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State fired former Pitt coach Todd Graham after six seasons Sunday despite a win over rival Arizona.

The Sun Devils (7-5, 6-2 Pac-12) are bowl eligible and finished second in the Pac-12 South behind USC after rallying to beat the Wildcats, 42-30, on Saturday, but the program is not on the trajectory athletic director Ray Anderson wanted. Graham and his staff will remain with the program through Arizona State's bowl game.

“From the moment he arrived in Tempe, Todd helped change the culture and emphasized the student in student-athlete here at Arizona State, elevating the program to unprecedented heights in the classroom and strong citizenship across the board,” Anderson said in a statement. “However, our athletic department, university and community expect our football program to compete on the field for Pac-12 titles, be competitively consistent and qualify to participate in major bowl games on a regular basis. In evaluating Todd's body of work over a four-year period, it became clear that a change is necessary.”

Graham, 52, has three seasons left on a contract that runs through the 2020 season and is owed $12 million. A search for his replacement started immediately.

Graham had immediate success in the desert after leaving Pitt, leading the Sun Devils to three consecutive bowls and a pair of 10-win seasons. Arizona State played in the Cactus Bowl in 2015 but lost that game and finished with a losing record (6-7).

The Sun Devils took another step back last season, finishing 5-7 behind a defense that ranked among the worst in FBS.

Arizona State struggled to open the 2017 season, laboring to get past New Mexico State before losing to San Diego State and Texas Tech. The Sun Devils had some impressive wins, beating No. 24 Oregon, No. 5 Washington and Utah in a span of four weeks.

The Sun Devils clinched bowl eligibility with last week's road win over Oregon State.

Arizona State was blown out by Arizona, 56-35, last season after the Wildcats rushed for a school-record 511 yards. The Sun Devils came back from a 10-point deficit to beat the Wildcats this year, but it wasn't enough to save Graham's job.

“We are committed to turning Sun Devil Football into an elite program and competing nationally on a consistent basis,” Anderson said.

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