Todd Graham Named Head Football Coach at University of Pittsburgh

Issue Date: 
January 18, 2011
From left, Pitt Athletics Director Steve Pederson, Haylee Graham, Todd Graham and his wife, Penni, Hank Graham, and Michael Todd Jr. (wearing Pitt hat)From left, Pitt Athletics Director Steve Pederson, Haylee Graham, Todd Graham and his wife, Penni, Hank Graham, and Michael Todd Jr. (wearing Pitt hat)

Todd Graham, widely regarded as one of the country’s finest offensive coaches, has been named by Pitt Athletics Director Steve Pederson the University of Pittsburgh’s head football coach. Graham was formally introduced to the Pitt community during a Jan. 11 news conference.

Graham comes to Pitt after a highly successful tenure as head football coach at the University of Tulsa (TU), where he had three 10-win campaigns and three bowl victories in four years. He compiled a 36-17 overall record with the TU Golden Hurricane football team, including a 10-3 record this year. Tulsa’s stunning 28-27 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 30, 2010, was called by ESPN the biggest upset of the year.

Graham’s hallmark has been prolific offenses. Under his direction, Tulsa led the nation in total offense twice (2007 and 2008) and ranked fifth this year. While he has a well-deserved reputation for devising offensive game plans, the 46-year-old coach built his career on defense, and he also has distinguished himself as a defensive coordinator and position coach.

Pitt is Graham’s third collegiate head-coaching appointment. In addition to coaching for Tulsa, he served as the head football coach at Rice University in Houston, Texas, for one season (2006), leading the Owls to their first bowl game in 45 years and earning Conference USA Coach of the Year honors. Graham’s career head-coaching record is 43-23 and includes four bowls in five seasons.

“We are thrilled that Todd Graham has agreed to become the head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pederson. “His innovative, creative, and energized approach to football makes him an exciting leader for our program. He has a proven track record of success at all levels of football, and his wealth of experience on both sides of the ball gives him a unique set of credentials.

“The outstanding job he has done at Tulsa—double-digit win totals in three of the past four seasons and an undefeated bowl record—has been noticed across the country. I know he is excited to meet his new team and the great people of Pittsburgh,” Pederson added.

“My family and I are honored to join a prestigious university like the University of Pittsburgh with such a rich football tradition,” said Graham, who becomes the 35th head coach in Pitt football history. “Pittsburgh is a tremendous football city with great fans. We will work diligently every day to earn their respect and build a program that competes for and wins championships. I’m also excited to return to the Big East, a conference that plays tremendous football.”

Graham’s 2010 Tulsa team rolled up 505.6 yards per game to rank fifth nationally and averaged 41.4 points to rank eighth. The Golden Hurricane also took exceptional care of the football, ranking second in the country in turnover margin (plus 17).

Under Graham’s watch, All-America player Damaris Johnson was rated one of the most exciting performers in college football. The 5-foot-8 player led the country in all-purpose yards for the second consecutive year (202.2 yards/game in 2010) and established himself as the NCAA’s career leader in that category with 7,796.

“I don’t think I can say enough good things about Todd Graham,” said College Hall of Fame coach John Cooper, who formerly coached at Tulsa as well as Ohio State and Arizona State. “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.”

Graham earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1987 from East Central University (ECU) in Ada, Oklahoma, before signing a free-agent contract with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. He later earned his master’s degree, also in education, from ECU.

He and his wife Penni have six children.