It’s about the players, it’s not about the coaches. I relish the opportunity to coach the guys we have at BYU. —Jeff Grimes
Jeff Grimes is an imposing figure. He’s a big, tall man who projects well from behind a podium. Introduced as BYU’s new offensive coordinator Saturday, Grimes described his hopes and dreams and what he will bring to Provo after a quarter of a century coaching at the highest levels of college football.
Grimes declared that in coming weeks he would assemble the greatest offensive staff to ever coach at BYU.
But as a native Texan, he is very familiar with the famous adage tattooed on the hearts of Lone Star high school coaches from Katy to Garland, and college war rooms from College Station to Austin: “It isn’t about the x’s and o’s; it’s the about the Jimmy’s and Joe’s.”
Grimes is a guy you wouldn’t want to disappoint as a player because he’d Super Man laser stare you to the core and Moses off the mountain tablet toss you. Yet, you get the feeling he’d be a lifelong loyal friend, a leader you’d follow into the pit of the Big House or Swamp.
At his press conference, Grimes pulled out prepared notes of what he wanted to say in an organized way. Then, with the papers still folded up, Grimes didn’t look at them once in delivering a detailed vision of what he wanted to do. He anticipated questions and addressed them first. He then answered questions from reporters without hesitation.
Grimes isn’t going to bring a magic bag of tricks to BYU as its new offensive coordinator. It will be old-fashioned hard work, dedication, team effort, accountability, execution, player centrist ideas and flexibility with talent. He said it is his philosophy to make defenses cover every blade of grass on the battlefield by whatever means.
He said he brings experience from being around the best college football minds in the game, guys like Dirk Koetter, Gene Chizik and Matt Canada.
In December, a month of no bowl game for BYU in a decade after a four-win season, this is music to the ears of many of the faithful.
“It’s about the players, it’s not about the coaches,” said Grimes. “I relish the opportunity to coach the guys we have at BYU.”
Grimes said he talked to more people about this BYU job than all the people combined in all his previous jobs (Rice, Texas A&M, Hardin-Simmons, Boise State, ASU, BYU, Colorado, Auburn, LSU).
“The message I got from everyone I talked to is that the program is moving in the right direction. Kalani is an awesome dude and a great coach and there is enough talent there to win. All they need is someone to provide some hope, some vision and structure and that I ought to take the job.”
Grimes said if you look across the country there are a lot of ways to run an offense and score points, but the best are those who do things a certain way.
“They execute. The way they take the field says something about who they are. The way they break the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage. The fact you don’t have silly pre-snap penalties because you don’t line up or false start. You don’t turn the football over. You play hard and you play physical and you establish your will in the fourth quarter and you win games because you’ve done things right up to that point.
“At LSU, we had eight giveaways this season, and four of those were in one game. We either led the nation or tied for the fewest in the nation. We didn’t do anything magical, we just preached it every single day and held the players accountable and helped them realize when they are carrying that football in their hands they are carrying the entire program in their hands.
“Those are the things that enable you to be successful, and the best coordinators I‘ve been around have demanded that from their staff and players, and we’ll do that.”
One of the most important things Grimes will do is recruit, the lifeblood of the college game. He said of what he remembers of BYU, it is easier because the net is smaller and he will be going after a very narrow group of prospects.
Grimes just spent eight or nine years recruiting in the SEC, considered to be the toughest, most competitive, most storied cut-throat, NCAA-rule challenged, intense recruiting environment ever created in the college football game.
“I’ve learned a few things,” he said.
The big takeaway from talking to Grimes about his new gig at BYU was this:
Sitake and former coordinator Ty Detmer have many strengths but they also are humble enough to recognize their first two seasons showed some weaknesses. Grimes appears to be a hire who is supposed to buoy up some of the missing pieces in the BYU football organization.
Detmer’s status remains up in the air. Sitake is scrambling to make fixes. Grimes is the first new face onboard to pitch remedies, and he appears excited, motivated and eager to tackle the task.
Will it work?
A reasonable goal is to help BYU get bowl eligible in 2018 and be in the hunt for six or seven wins.
Anything beyond that would be high cotton.