J.B. Grimes, Mississippi State's offensive line coach, talks with Gene's Page."> J.B. Grimes, Mississippi State's offensive line coach, talks with Gene's Page.">

One-on-one with OL coach J.B. Grimes

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/football/grimes.jpg" align="left"> J.B. Grimes, Mississippi State's offensive line coach, talks with Gene's Page.

A veteran of 27 years in the coaching profession, the last 25 of which have come at the collegiate level, Grimes has been associated with teams that have won five conference championships and gone to 14 post-season bowl games.

He served as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at East Carolina University under John Thompson this past season. Prior to making the move to East Carolina, Grimes served as the offensive line coach under R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M for five seasons, 1998-2002. Immediately prior to joining the A&M staff, Grimes coached five seasons at Virginia Tech, 1993-97, under Frank Beamer. He also served as offensive line coach at Arkansas on two different occasions, 1989-92 (offensive line coach) and 1981-82 (as a graduate assistant and then offensive line instructor under Lou Holtz). Other colleges he coached at included Northeast Louisiana (1979-80, 1985-88), Delta State (1983) and Missouri (1984).

How did you wind up at Mississippi State? What were your connections?
"First of all, I didn't know Coach Croom. Back in the early 80's, I was a graduate assistant coach under Lou Holtz. Larry Beightol was the offensive line coach at Arkansas at that time. He trained me. Just about everything that I have learned over the years is in some way directly attributed to Larry Beightol. He is the offensive line coach with Green Bay, so he has been working with Coach Croom. I think he probably helped me out a little bit. Another guy that went in and talked to Coach Croom was Alonzo Highsmith, who is one of the scouts for Green Bay. During my tenure at Texas A&M as the line coach, Alonzo worked our school, so he was able to evaluate a lot of our guys. During that time, Alonzo and I became very close friends."

Based on what I read on the internet and newspapers, it sounded like it was almost immediate that Coach Croom wanted to hire you on his staff because he considers you as one of the top offensive line coaches in the college ranks.
"I hope so. I know one thing, there is nothing like a great back to make you look good (laugh). I love those really good backs. A good fullback and a good tailback can make a line coach look awfully good."

When I read about you after you were signed on as MSU's new offensive coach, everything led me to believe, like Coach Croom believed, that you are one of the best offensive line coaches in college ball. Why do you believe you have that kind of reputation?
"I give all the credit to Larry Beightol. I really do. He is a great fundamentalist. In all of my years of coaching, Larry Beightol is the finest fundamentalist that I have ever seen when it comes to offensive line play. He made me learn what he knows. I really think he is the finest offensive line coach in the United States. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work under him."

Have you been around a lot of other offensive line coaches?
"The longer I'm in this business, the more I realize there are a lot of different ways in this part of the country to skin a squirrel. And all of them are right. It's just what you believe in. You find yourself a philosophy and you stick with it. You go and make your players believe in that and it will work."

What do you look for in a guard, center and tackle?
"When you look for an offensive lineman, you always look for guys that are big. In this league, the Southeastern Conference, you have to have a big, physical offensive line. But I don't believe big is the only criteria that you are looking for. We like athletic offensive lineman. The bottom line is an offensive lineman is going to get into trouble. When I say get into trouble, I'm talking about on the field where his body gets him in a bind. We like to have those guys who have the ability to get out of trouble with their feet and their athleticism. To me, you recruit a ton of those type guys.

"When you start out, you look at the center position. In the offenses that I have been in in the past, the center position is the quarterback of the entire offensive line. It may even go out to the tight end in some cases. You look for a guy that is smart and understands the game of football and doesn't mind studying a little extra due to the extra responsibility put on him.

"I think we need tall tackles. Especially in this league you don't need to be going out there with a 6-2 tackle. The inside guys, the guards and centers, I think you can get away with shorter guys as long as they are quick and powerful and can strike you. If a guy can play, he can play. We are looking for football players."

What are you looking for in the mentality of your offensive lineman? I watch a lot of high school tapes and I see some guys who drive the defensive lineman until the whistle stops them.
"You are looking for a guy that is nasty. You are looking for those nasty guys that try to bury people. You want to play within the rules, but you also want guys who are out there saying, 'I love to play football and I am about to go out there and go 100 miles per hour.' If you have to coach effort in a player, then you probably have the wrong player. If you have to get after a guy who is loafing, then you probably recruited the wrong guy. You want to go out and recruit guys that play hard. Then, technique-wise, you get him in and coach him. That's our job."

What kind of coach are you on the practice field? In other words, what is your style of coaching?
"That's a hard question to answer. I guess you can say I coach hard and expect my guys to play hard. The best way to get that question answered is to ask the guys after spring ball is over (laugh)."

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Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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