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Arizona State Coach Todd Graham Wants to Climb the Mountain

College athletic departments spend a lot of time and money to market their football programs. Maybe they should turn to their football coaches instead.

While the “Sun Devil Laws” and “Embrace the Grind” campaigns are great, Arizona State football coach Todd Graham has authored some of the most memorable buzz words associated with the program.

Every ASU fan can say: “Left lane, hammer down,” with the proper cadence and Graham’s Texas drawl.

Every fan understands the concept of high-octane offense, every fan understands the important of character in Graham’s program — and everyone knows the accent falls heavily on the first two letters when pronouncing the word: ‘character.’

The secret to Graham’s success is a combination of his pervasive public profile and his down-home appeal. Graham speaks with a preacher’s fervor and a salesman’s charm, wrapping his message in cloaks of credibility and charisma that no corporate creation can ever hope to achieve.

It’s a new season so naturally, Graham has a new metaphor. Graham wants to climb the mountain, and he’s declared it each of the five days that ASU has been available to the media since it opened training camp on Aug. 5.

“We know we can get to 10 wins. We’ve done it the last two years and that’s great, but we want more,” Graham said. “We want to get to 15 wins.

“Getting to eight, nine, 10 wins is the easy part. Now the climb gets steeper. Each step is more difficult but that’s what makes the challenge so much fun.”

The metaphor of climbing a mountain isn’t exactly revelatory writing, but it is easy to grasp and ASU does happen to play right next door to a mountain known simply as “A Mountain.”

How long before students start placing a pitchfork on the mountainside after each win, slowly ascending the peak as the victories stack up? How long before the school’s athletic website appropriates the metaphor or we see T-shirts out at practice with the simple message: Climb the Mountain.

Nobody will win an award for this tagline, but the message is clear and the idea is accessible to all, much like the man who authored it.

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