Arizona State coach Todd Graham is relentless in his message.
"Our program is going to be about winning championships," he said.
The Sun Devils won a Pac-12 South championship last season in Graham's second season in charge, but then lost the conference title game, at home, to Stanford. ASU followed that by stumbling as a big favorite against Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
Graham, in his ninth year as a head coach, calls this team the smartest team he's ever had. Says it has the best character of any team he's ever had. He says the leadership and work ethic is right at the top, too.
"I have a lot of confidence this is going to be the best football team we put on the field at Arizona State," he said.
"We don't want to be Pac-12 South champions. We want to be Pac-12 champions, Rose Bowl champions, obviously win every game."
While he says this thinks this is going to be his best ASU team, that might be true on only one side of the ball. ASU, coming off a 10-4 season in which it averaged 39.7 points per game, should be fabulous offensively. The potential problem is that the Devils have to replace nine starters on defense.
With such a difference of experience on both sides of the ball, there is much difference of preseason opinion on ASU. The Devils, for example, are only 47th in USA Today's countdown of the top teams. But the coaches poll planted ASU at No. 18 in its preseason poll.
Back to Graham's message ...
"Obviously, people focus on certain players in particular, and those are all valid questions, but the program is what matters," Graham said.
"Good programs and great programs reload, but they don't re-build. To our fans, our students, and the Sun Devil nation, anything less than being Pac-12 champions is unsatisfactory. I came here to win championships; I'm not interested in anything else."
DRAFT PROSPECTS (includes 2015 NFLDraftScout.com rating as applicable):
--WR Jaelen Strong (No. 3 wide receiver, 20th overall) -- The junior exploded onto the scene last season after his transfer from junior college, catching 75 passes for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors in a league stocked with elite wideouts. As his surname suggests, he is indeed Strong -- a 6-foot-4 receiver who "adds" to his height with leaping ability and body control.
--OL Jamil Douglas (No. 12 offensive guard, 205th overall) -- He'll play left tackle this season but most of his time at ASU -- including 27 starts -- has come at left guard, which is likely his position at the next level. At 6-4, 300, he has the body-type of an NFL lineman and has quick feet.
--RB D.J. Foster -- The junior was the centerpiece of coach Todd Graham's first Arizona State recruiting class, and he has shown flashes while backing up Marion Grice in the past two seasons. Foster, outstanding as a pass-catcher, too, flourished when Grice was injured late last season, including having 23 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns vs. Arizona. He'll be the feature back this season.