The message, direction of ASU football now in perfect focus

Arizona Sports News online

In many ways they mirror one another.

They can intimidate and comfort.

Take you out of your normal routine and condition you to expect the unexpected.

They’re traditionalists who both believe back-to-basics is usually best.

Todd Graham and Camp Tontozona are the perfect match.

As Arizona State wraps up their near week-long stay outside Payson sharing cramped living accommodations with beetles, bees and the rest of Mother Nature’s curveballs it’s clear to see why the head coach has such an affinity for Camp T. and what it represents.

“I’ve stated many times that I love the traditions of college football,” Graham said. “Camp Tontozona for ASU is one of those iconic traditions. I want to perpetuate that tradition.”

They say first impressions are important and nobody needs to be reminded how he unceremoniously left the University of Pittsburgh at the alter but Graham is not only a dream-chaser, but a visionary.

What annoyed former head coach Dennis Erickson, inspires Graham.

Whether dealing with the media’s laundry list of requests, addressing boosters or overhauling the look and feel of the football offices he’s kept his promise to his players, Sun Devil nation and the University.

This ties back to Camp Tontozona. First started by legendary Frank Kush who you’ll still find walking the sidelines as the Sun Devils go through workouts on grass too green and a wooded backdrop far too picturesque to describe in this column.

Take one visit to the ASU new players cabin and you’ll see why Graham believes more team-building happens during the six-day stay at Camp T. than at any point during the calendar year.

Players are crammed.

Personal space invaded.

Privacy nearly non-existent.

Friday afternoon a group of players took a hike with a special purpose and the type of message Graham preaches to his players daily.


It’s clear the players buy into Graham and Camp T. Why shouldn’t they when the head coach sets the example by challenging himself as you can see in the video below.

It’s as though the fast-talking Texan and the cool pines outside Payson were made for one another.

Easy to see why when they both believe in the same thing.