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(All information as of June 20, 2007)
COACH AND PROGRAM
For Rice fans, it's difficult to forgive Todd Graham for leaving after leading the Owls to a 7-6 record and their first bowl since 1961.
For Tulsa fans, Graham's decision to return to Tulsa, where he worked as defensive coordinator from 2002-05, was a no-brainer.
For pragmatic outsiders, it appears Graham did what he had to do. Tulsa offered him more than $1 million annually over six years, the resources to hire the coaches he wanted and the current construction of a new $10 million football facility at the north end of Skelly Field, complete with locker rooms, offices, meeting rooms, an academic center and game day suites. Next up is an $18 million stadium renovation that will start after the 2007 season.
As one Conference USA coach put it, "How could he not take that job?"
It's difficult to argue with Graham's choice, particularly considering the fact he spent just one year away from the Tulsa program. He knows most of the current players and administrators and understands what it takes to continue the success Steve Kragthorpe forged in four seasons before he left for Louisville. Considering the Golden Hurricane's three bowl trips in the last four seasons, its 2005 conference championship and its commitment to new facilities, it's a good bet the Tulsa job has never been better.
"Things are rockin' and rollin' here," Graham said. "We've got the stadium renovation coming in '08, we're fixin' to move into the end-zone facility this summer and we've got a lot of good things going.
"The difference between 2002 and now is like night and day. I was at West Virginia, and we were a Top 25 program when I left there to come to Tulsa, a program with two wins in two years. When we got here, they were talking about getting rid of football and everybody thought we had lost our minds by taking this job.
"But this is home to me. I spent half of my career playing and coaching in Oklahoma and I always thought this university had a lot of promise. We've come a long, long way in a short time and the university's obviously committed to the program. I wouldn't have left Rice after just one year if it weren't to come to Tulsa."