Speak softly and carry a big stick.
The proverb popularized by former President Teddy Roosevelt is one that resonates with Arizona State Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson as an ideology for his football program.
As a Tuesday guest on Fox Sports 910-AM radio show The Drive, Anderson made clear he thinks its time the team's leadership figures scale back their rhetoric.
"One of the things very frankly that we're trying to do better around here is to talk less and deliver more," Anderson said. "We'll be minimal with the bravado on all the predictions about greatness and just let our play speak for us. I think you'll see that from us."
After consecutive 10 win seasons thrilled fans in 2013 and 2014, ASU head coach Todd Graham set an even higher bar just ahead of the 2015 season. On August 13 at Camp Tontozona he confidently declared, "We're a lot better football team. That's just the bottom line. A lot, lot better."
Two weeks later, Graham doubled down on his opinion that the Sun Devils were ready to take another step forward just ahead of the season opener.
"I think our team is the most advanced we've had when it comes to leadership and true action leadership," he said on August 28. "Heck yeah, I think we're ready."
One week later the Sun Devils were dominated in a 38-17 loss to Texas A&M that foreshadowed a deeply disappointing 6-7 season. ASU finished last in the country in passing defense and never was fully in sync in all phases of play.
It was only Graham's second losing season in 10 years as a head coach. It was also a major surprise for fans who had only seen him out-perform expectations through his first three years in Tempe, even though he is prone to hyperbole.
Anderson said he believes Graham has already done enough to demonstrate the program is in good hands. He's the first coach to take the Sun Devils to a bowl game in his first four seasons, and did it as one of the most disciplined programs in the country on and off the field. Student-athlete grade-point averages, class attendance and graduation rates have soared under his leadership.
Graham's accomplishments, according to Anderson, stand solidly on their own merit.
"I just think you're able to understand and appreciate that we're not just trying to get out here and push and promote the program," Anderson told Fox Sports 910-AM. "I think we've established that he's a very strong coach who can have good results, and that promotion doesn't necessarily mean having to be a little more bravado-oriented than maybe some other coaches. It's also a matter, very frankly of growing and maturing in how you give your leadership and I think we've seen real positives in that regard. You might call it a fine-line, we just call it being real self-aware and being honest with how we'd like to be portrayed and interpreted."