March 23, 2010

Graham getting TU past adversity

Heading in to the 2010 season, Tulsa head coach Todd Graham is facing some adversity, which has not been common in his young head coaching career.

In his only season at Rice in 2006 -- his first as a college head coach -- he took the Owls to their first bowl game in 45 years and matched the greatest turnaround by a first-year coach in school history, a six-game improvement from the year before. For his efforts, he was recognized as the 2006 Conference USA Coach of the Year.

Graham then took over the Tulsa program, where he had been the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 2003 to 2005. In his first two years, he did what no other Golden Hurricane coach before him had accomplished -- post back-to-back 10-win seasons. The Hurricane closed out the 2008 campaign with an 11-3 overall record after registering a victory in the GMAC Bowl over No. 22-ranked Ball State.

Fast forward to the 2009 season, and things didn't turn out as smoothly. Tulsa bolted out to a 4-1 start behind new starting quarterback G.J. Kinne, but the Hurricane lost six of its last seven games, finishing 5-7 and missing out on a bowl game.

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