I have a broad knowledge base that will allow me to put together the best system for BYU right now. That’s the most important thing. —Jeff Grimes
PROVO — Entrusted with the responsibility of fixing the myriad problems that plagued one of the nation’s worst offenses last season, new BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is eager to get to work — and he’s confident that he’s the man to get the job done, with the help of others.
While Grimes will remain as Louisiana State’s offensive line coach through the Tigers’ Citrus Bowl game against Notre Dame on Jan. 1, he was in town this weekend after being hired last Thursday.
Coach Kalani Sitake formally introduced him at a press conference Saturday morning at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“Throughout our conversations the past few weeks, it’s pretty evident that coach Grimes loves his players, enjoys his role as a mentor and gets the most out of his players on and off the field,” Sitake said. “I look forward to him making that impact on BYU football. I’m really excited about the direction of our offense.”
During his 33-minute session with reporters, Grimes outlined his goals and his vision.
Grimes' first order of business is “to work to put together with coach Sitake the best offensive staff BYU has ever had. I know what that means because there have been a lot of great coaches here over the years. I really believe in this time, and in this place, we can do that.”
Grimes, who replaces Ty Detmer as the offensive coordinator, added that there’s no definite timetable to have his offensive staff in place.
“We’re going to take our time and get the right guys here,” he said. He didn’t rule out the possibility of coaching a position in addition to his coordinator duties. “Only time will tell which direction we choose to go,” Grimes said.
Naturally, Grimes addressed the type of offense BYU will be running.
“I have a broad knowledge base that will allow me to put together the best system for BYU right now. That’s the most important thing,” said Grimes, who has 25 years of coaching experience, spending many of those seasons with some of the most innovative offensive minds in the game. “When you look at building an offense, the first thing you want to do is build a culture. You’ve got to build a mindset that’s right. There are a lot of different ways to move the football and score points. But with the right guys who are willing to give all that they have, you have an opportunity to be successful, whichever style that you choose.
“It’s really important that you build an offense around the skill set that you have. You can look at it two ways,” he continued. “What is it going to look like long-term? And who do you have right now, this year, that will allow you to win this season? We’ll combine both of those things. My goal is to put together the best combination of all of the systems that I’ve been a part of and build a system that’s flexible enough to fit exactly what we have this year.”
While Grimes has never been a play-caller, he has served for many years as a run-game coordinator, and he explained there have been times when he’s called specific run plays in big games with conference championships and national championships on the line.
“It’s my job to give the right call, and I’ve done that everywhere that I’ve been,” Grimes said. “If I can make a call in that situation, then I can make any call.”
Over the years, Grimes, who was BYU's offensive line coach from 2004-06, has had other opportunities to make the transition from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator. But he believes this situation fits him best.
“The timing was right for me to do this. The knowledge I’ve gained the past few years at LSU, being in the position to design a lot of the game plan and the knowledge I gained really added to the knowledge base I had prior,” Grimes said. “I think the timing is right for BYU to have a guy like me in this position.”
As of Saturday morning, Grimes hadn’t met with the offensive players as a group, but he did meet a few of them Friday while spending time at the BYU football offices.
“It was really cool. There was really a neat vibe when I met those guys. They were very excited to meet me,” Grimes said. “I saw a light in their eye about football and what we’re going to do. My message to them was that I can’t wait to get here and get to work. There were five or six guys in Kalani’s office. They said, ‘When are you going to be here?’ I said, ‘I’m going to be here until (Saturday) and then I’ll be back after the bowl game.’ They said, ‘We really want to get to work.’ I said, ‘Let’s go outside and do a little walk-through right now.’ They were game.”
While he was coaching at Auburn, legendary Tiger coach Pat Dye would tell Grimes regularly, “You know, you can coach them just as hard as you’re willing to love them.”
“I think that’s true,” Grimes said. “That would describe my approach to a large extent. We’re going to be very demanding but we’re going to love the guys, too. Through being demanding and caring about them, you have the opportunity to build trust.”