Jeff Grimes Exits Arizona State for Y Coaching Job

It wasn't the best-kept of secrets, but the addition of <b>Jeff Grimes</b> today to BYU's football staff speaks volumes about <b>Gary Crowton's</b> plans to immediately reverse the negative trends of the past two seasons.

Knowledgeable sources told last weekend that 35-year-old Grimes, the offensive line/running game coordinator at Arizona State, had successfully completed all his interviews with school officials and was offered the job as offensive line coach.

"We are very excited to have Coach Grimes join us at BYU," Crowton said. "Jeff is an outstanding person, a great coach and is a perfect fit for our staff. We are looking forward to working with him and draw from his experiences."

Grimes, who is not LDS, is said to be a strong Christian and was attracted to BYU because of its quality-of-life and family-oriented environment. He and his wife, Sheri, have a daughter, Bailey (3), and a son, Garrison (22 months).

In his first official comments today, Grimes said, "I have two young children and I am very impressed with the family atmosphere at BYU, particularly with Coach Crowton and the coaching staff. I love my job, but my family is more important to me. I appreciate the emphasis Coach Crowton places on the family. I want to be the best husband and father I can be, so having a chance to work in this environment is something I just couldn't pass up.

With a substantial improvement expected in offensive line play this fall, Crowton's offensive arsenal is expected to take flight again with the addition of the best wide receiver recruiting class in BYU history. In Crowton's rookie year in 2001, the Cougars were ranked No. 1 in total offense and scoring offense among all 117 Div. 1 colleges. Last season, BYU was an NCAA bottom dweller at No. 102 in total offense and No. 109 in scoring offense.

"Working the past three years at Arizona State has been a great experience," Grimes said. "I have learned a great deal from Coach Koetter about offenses and how to run a program. I am excited to bring that knowledge and experience with me to BYU.

"I am looking forward to working with Coach Crowton, the staff and players at BYU. My respect for this program goes way back to my days as a player at UTEP. Whenever we came to BYU, we always lost and we always played in front of a packed stadium. The atmosphere has always been incredible. I guess this is one of those cases where if you can't beat them, then join them."

He added: "Coach Crowton has a great reputation. He is known for his offensive innovation as well as his values. I know several people who know him and can't say enough about him. I'm excited to have the opportunity to work with someone like that."

But even as BYU's prolific and high-flying offense was soaring in 2001, its defense was ranked a miserable No. 102 in total defense that year. With the immediate-impact hiring of defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall last season, the Cougars jumped from No. 69 ranking in 2002 to No. 14 in 2003. BYU's defense could be even better this fall.

With Grimes expected to help immediately in transforming the Cougars offense to its typical high-flying self, quarterbacks Matt Berry, John Beck and JC transfer Jason Beck are already preparing for a hard-fought battle for the critical starting quarterback slot this fall. Both Berry and John Beck were sidelined last season with broken bones in their throwing hands, a freak phenomenon that resulted in Jackson Brown, a walk-on, former scout team quarterback playing most of the game in the important Utah-BYU rivalry game last season.

The first official confirmation of Grimes' hiring came in today's editions of The Arizona Republic. The paper also announced that former Utah offensive line coach, Brent Myers, who was just hired Jan. 15 as Washington's offensive line coach, will rejoin ASU head coach Dirk Koetter. The 43-year-old Myers was offensive line coach for two seasons (1998-99) under Koetter.

Grimes, on the other hand, is no stranger to BYU having played against the fellow WAC counterpart Cougars as a standout offensive tackle at Texas El Paso (UTEP) from 1986-91. Grimes was coached by Koetter, the Miners' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, from 1986-88.

Reliable sources said that former offensive line coach, Lance Reynolds, an extremely popular player coach and top-flight recruiter, has been one of the strongest advocates for bringing in a more experienced offensive line coach.

Crowton also announced Monday that Reynolds will switch back to his former position as running backs' coach and remains assistant head coach. Former RB coach Paul Tidwell, another popular and highly respected assistant who has coached the Cougars running backs for the past three seasons, will now serve exclusively as the special teams' coordinator.

The interesting aspect of Grimes' hiring is the fact he is stepping down from a more credible, high profile Pac-10 coaching position to assume a similar role at a non-BCS school in Provo.

A four-year assistant under Koetter, Grimes is has been described as a high-intensity, but player-friendly coach that some liken to BYU defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall in style.

Grimes coached four NFL offensive line draft picks in 2001 at Arizona State – led by All-Pac-10 selections Scott Peters and Levi Jones, helping ASU finish fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing, averaging 167.1 yards per game. The fact that four of his 2001 offensive linemen were taken in the NFL draft was the first time that has happened in school history – and just the second time it has been done by any school since the NFL went to the seven-round draft format in 1993.

The new BYU assistant is also considered one of Arizona State's best recruiters. He aggressively recruited BYU high school All-American Ofa Mohetau -- one of Mohetau's top five finalists – and was responsible for North and West Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth) for the Sun Devils. His hiring will substantially strengthen BYU's recruiting ties and connections in talent-rich Texas, the main focus of the Cougars' high school recruiting success with five athletes signed on Feb. 4.

Grimes coached one year at Boise State with Koetter before moving to Arizona State with his mentor. He had earlier coaching assignments at Hardin-Simmons University from 1998-99, where he helped lead Hardin-Simmons to consecutive conference crowns and a national Div. 2 quarterfinal appearance in 1999 with a 12-1 record. He also served as a graduate assistant at Rice University (1995) and Texas A&M (1996-98).

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