It’s been ten days since Eddie Gran became Mark Stoops’ #1 target to replace Shannon Dawson as offensive coordinator. Here’s what I wrote about Gran on the 18th of December, along with a few updates.
He was a top candidate for the job last year
When looking for Neal Brown’s replacement, it was a three-horse race for the job. Most people knew that it could be Dawson or Lincoln Riley — ECU’s offensive coordinator that would become National Assistant of the Year for Mark’s brother Bob — but few people knew that Eddie Gran was the third finalist. Even though Mark may have not made the right call in 2014, he has the rare opportunity to redo that decision in 2015.
He’s worked with Mark Stoops Before
Gran was on the staff at Florida State for three seasons when Mark Stoops was the defensive coordinator. Before leaving for Cincinnati the same year Stoops departed, he was the associate head coach for the Seminoles, managing the special teams and running backs. He also spent time at Miami, but his tenure in the early 90’s didn’t coincide with Stoops’.
He’s a Special Teams and Running Backs Specialist
When he manned the units for FSU, the team averaged 203 yards rushing per game. Some of his former pupils, Karlos Williams and Devonta Freeman, are NFL standouts. Even though it’s unlikely that if hired he’ll handle both offensive and Special Teams duties, he had a Lou Groza finalist in consecutive years, and his return units were the best in the ACC.
His experience with Stoops and his proven ability to the run ball would make Gran a homerun hire.
Third Fifth in the Nation in Passing this Year
Even though he had success with running backs at Florida State, he’s dominated in the passing game at Cincinnati. In the prolific passing American Conference, his offense had the most passing yards per game, fifth in the nation with 361 yards per game, dropping from 376 yards per game after his second-string QB struggled in the Hawaii Bowl. His offense still ran for 168 yards per game, ranking the Bearcats 7th in the nation in total offense. UC averaged 32.3 points per game, 9 more points a game than Kentucky in 2015.
Gran Plays Balanced
Even though UC threw for a lot more yards, 46% of the plays he called were runs. It was always a mystery whether UK was trying to run to setup the pass, or pass to setup the run. For Gran, running to setup the pass has worked out very well.
Gran Enjoys Jeff Ruby’s
Great date night with Lucy. Her favorite place in the world – Jeff Ruby,s. There staff rocks!!! pic.twitter.com/wWPRfqtNqR
— Eddie Gran (@CoachGran) July 18, 2015
We’re big fans of Mr. Ruby at KSR, and if you’ve ever had their truffle creamed corn you can understand why.
This wouldn’t be his first rodeo in the SEC
He’s spent 15 years in the SEC as a special teams coordinator and running backs coach, 10 years at Auburn followed by a stint at Tennessee. Not many know what it takes to win in the SEC, but Gran does.
Gran knows how to get the ball to tight ends
Arguably UK’s best pass-catcher this year was C.J. Conrad, but he was rarely used, catching only 15 passes this year. In Gran’s first year at Cincinnati he turned Travis Kelce into an NFL tight end. Before Gran, Kelce had 14 total receptions. Under Gran, he caught 45 passes for 8 touchdowns in one season to become a third round draft pick.
His Offense Only Scored 7 Points in the Hawaii Bowl
It made much of the BBN laugh, but that’s for the people who didn’t know that his starting quarterback wasn’t playing. Instead, he had a backup throw three interceptions. Besides, I remember Bobby Petrino’s Auburn offense only scoring 6 points in a bowl game before coming to Louisville and tearing it up.
I’ll have more on the highlights of Gran’s 27-year coaching career later.