PHOENIX — Arizona State coach Todd Graham defied logic (and simple math) by eschewing a 2-point try in the fourth quarter.
He allowed 11 seconds to expire before calling timeout as West Virginia sought to kill the final 1:26. This after the Sun Devils squandered another valuable timeout before a fourth-quarter kickoff.
What Graham didn’t do was shirk responsibility for the gaffes that contributed prominently in a 43-42 Cactus Bowl loss to West Virginia.
“Mismanagement,” he said more than once in the game’s aftermath.
In a back-and-forth shootout, Arizona State jumped ahead 41-36 on Gary Chambers’ 58-yard touchdown catch with 4:56 left. Needing a 2-pointer to build a seven-point margin—an obvious decision given time and score—the Sun Devils sent out kicker Zane Gonzalez for the PAT and the Chase Field crowd began buzzing.
“It’s my fault,” Graham said. “We have a chart in the (coaches) box that we go by. We’re supposed to be going for two. We didn’t. Mismanagement on my part. That’s my responsibility.
“Ball was snapped, kicked the extra point, tried to call a timeout. We had several things like that today. Not much to say about that—just mismanagement.”
Earlier in the fourth quarter, after Arizona State drew within 36-35 on a Gonzalez field goal, Graham curiously burned a timeout as the Sun Devils prepared to kickoff.
“We were fixing to do an onside kick and we didn’t have the right personnel on the field,” he said. “Another mismanagement deal.”
And the Sun Devils bungled away another winnable game to finish the season at 6-7. More than in previous losses, Graham faulted himself and the coaching staff.
“I told (our players) in the locker room we let them down today,” which was easily his best call of the night.