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Arizona State Sun Devils

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Outgoing Graham to coach bowl game

Arizona State's bowl appearance might be a bit lost amid its coaching transition.

Fired coach Todd Graham will have one more go-around with the Sun Devils in the Dec. 29 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, against North Carolina State, but ASU already hired new coach Herm Edwards.

During his introductory press conference, Edwards displayed the passion for which he is known. The 63-year-old showed he had plenty of fire. Most recently an ESPN analyst, Edwards hasn't coached since being fired by the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2008 season.

Edwards quoted former ASU star linebacker Pat Tillman, citing his passion for the game, as why he's ready to return to a more active role in the game.

"Football ignites my soul," Edwards said. "It's what makes me go. This is what I do. I've done this my whole life."

Edwards also referenced his former coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dick Vermeil, noting how he still demonstrated the willingness to coach long after he transitioned into the broadcast booth.

"You don't forget how to coach," Edwards said. "They're not bringing me here to play. I can't play, although I'll tell you I got one hit left."

As an NFL head coach, Edwards owns a 54-74 regular-season record. He was 39-41 with the Jets, who reached the playoffs three times in his tenure.

Graham was 46-31 in six seasons for Arizona State. He went 18-19 in the final three seasons but guided the school to a bowl game for the fifth time in sixth seasons this year.

By all accounts, the preparation for the game and playing in it under Graham should be an emotional experience.

"If I was ASU, I'd name this (new football) facility after Todd Graham," senior running back Demario Richard told the Arizona Republic. "I've seen him turn boys into men, turn people who didn't believe in God to believing in God. He's a great man.

"He's just one phone call away for me, and I know if I ever want to get into coaching I know who to call."

Wide receiver N'Keal Harry echoed Richard's sentiment.

"He's taught me a lot of things," Harry said of Graham. "The biggest thing is really my character. We're football players and a lot of people look up to us and a lot of times we don't even notice how many people are looking at us.

"He's really taught me to carry myself in a manner my grandmother would like me to act."

North Carolina State is playing in its fourth consecutive bowl. The Wolfpack finished second in the ACC's Atlantic Division while ASU finished second in the Pac-12 South.

The Wolfpack's senior quarterback Ryan Finley is from Phoenix. He initially started his career at Boise State before transferring to North Carolina State in 2016.

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