Hawaii football coach Todd Graham under fire over alleged mistreatment, abuse of players
Hawaii coach Todd Graham is under fire after a report of alleged mistreatment within the football program.
SFGate.com's Marc Delucchi quoted several current and former players anonymously about the state of the Hawaii program under Graham in a report published Monday.
Delucchi wrote that the players say that Graham "has fostered an unsustainable, troublesome environment during his brief tenure that overshadows any tenuous on-the-field achievements."
Graham previously coached at Arizona State, where he went 48-32 in six seasons from 2012-2017.
He is 11-11 in two seasons in Hawaii. The team went 6-7 this season, but made the Hawaii bowl when the NCAA added another bowl game.
Here are some of the quotes from players published in the report, which alleges that the coach has "consistently crossed the line in terms of decency and respect" with the Hawaii players.
“A lot of players want him fired, especially the starters.”
“Me and a lot of others can truthfully say Graham has killed our love and passion for football.”
“I would go as far to say it’s verbal abuse the way he talks to guys. … It’s personal. It’s not like, ‘Oh, you need to be faster.’ He’s calling guys useless, jackass and a sack of s--t.”
“I had several conversations with my parents last year about quitting, dropping my scholarship, and being done with football after playing it my whole life."
“I see why he wants the bowl game so bad. It ain’t for the seniors. It ain’t for Hawaii. It’s for his reputation and the extra bowl game check.”
“I’m probably not coming back this year because [Graham] has three more years. … It’s not like we have the money to buy him out. Most of the freshmen are either quitting or trying to transfer.”
Former Chandler High star Dae Dae Hunter announced that he was transferring from the program last month after he was the team's leading rusher.
Interestingly, in his tweet announcing his decision to transfer, Hunter wrote: "With that being said me and my family see that it's best for my future and my mental health that I enter the transfer portal and see where my journey continues."
Several other players have also announced their intentions to transfer from the program, including starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
247 Sports lists 10 Hawaii players currently in the transfer portal.
The SFGate report also included allegations from players "that assistants were promoted based on who challenged Graham the least, and one even allegedly refused to ask him a question at practice because he was 'just trying not to get yelled at.'"
It was also alleged in the report that Graham ignores players completely and one player was quoted as saying that Graham is using Hawaii to get to the NFL.
“He basically kept telling us he’s using us as a stepping stone," the player said.
Several Hawaii players participated in a recent Twitter Spaces discussion moderated by former Hawaii player Darryl McBride Jr., which Delucchi summed up as follows:
"For more than three hours, McBride moderated a discussion primarily driven by players on the 2021 Hawaii football team, some of whom described an unhealthy team culture under Graham. Players complained of rampant favoritism, incompetent coaching and a locker room environment that failed to build camaraderie between teammates. As one player shared on the forum, 'I’ve played on a 1-11 team and have never felt like this.'"
Graham responded to the criticism.
“I don’t read Twitter. I don’t do those things,” he said. “I can tell you that my deal is focusing on being positive."
He continued: "We’ve got a great belief in what we’re doing. We know we’re doing things the right way.”
Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.