When Eddie Gran’s name entered the top of the list of candidates for offensive coordinator two weeks ago, the first thing people wanted to know, “Who is this guy?” Once we learned more about him, we discovered we could watch his high-powered offense do work on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl against San Diego State. He looked good on paper, then his offense only managed 279 yards and 7 points in a blowout loss.
Gran should not be judged on one game alone. He was without his starting quarterback, 2,700 yard passer Gunner Kiel, leaving his backup to throw three untimely interceptions. Gran has seen much better days, including many earlier this season. Here’s a short-list of his coaching accomplishments.
— Gran was the running backs coach for the best team of running backs this century. Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams made up the 1-2 punch that led Auburn to an undefeated regular season, an SEC Championship, a Sugar Bowl victory, and a disputed National Championship. The 2005 NFL Draft was the first time two running backs from the same team had ever been selected in the Top Five. Gran somehow kept both of the egos appeased while getting the most out of their talents. The duo combined for 2,220 yards in ’04. Williams would break Bo Jackson’s career touchdown record, finishing second in career yards, while Brown finished 7th in career rushing yards.
— Miami won a lot of games during his two seasons. In 1990 the Canes won the Cotton Bowl and finished 3rd in the AP Poll. They were Orange Bowl Champs in ’91 and AP National Champions, sharing the title with Coaches’ Poll Champs, Washington.
— He made Gunner Kiel see (some) of his potential. I am hard-pressed to find a more enigmatic quarterback than Gunner Kiel. Kiel was an Indiana Mr. Football out of Columbus East High School in Southern Indiana. Media attention on Kiel reached Louisville, and there was plenty to keep an eye on. Touted as the nation’s #1 quarterback, he originally committed to stay home and play for IU. Then he changed his mind and committed to play for Les Miles at LSU. He changed his mind one more time before choosing Notre Dame. See where this is going?
Kiel was 4th on the depth chart at Notre Dame when they ran the table and made it to the BCS National Championship. Unhappy with playing time, he transferred to Cincinnati. After sitting out for a year, Gran quickly turned Kiel into a proficient passer, throwing for 6 touchdowns in his first game as a starter. In 2013, Kiel was an Honorable Mention All-American, throwing for over 6,000 yards in two seasons that were limited by injury.
— He has been honored for recruiting successes. His best year came when Florida State signed the #1 recruiting class back in 2011. As a result, ESPN named his as one of the nation’s Top 25 recruiters.
A short list of running backs that have had success on Sundays.
- Devonta Freeman – Currently with the Falcons, Freeman was forced to start as a true freshman, finishing with the fifth best freshman year for a running back in FSU history. He needs only 20 more yards for 1,000 rushing yards in only his second NFL season.
- Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs spent a year with Gran at Auburn before winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.
- Karlos Williams – Orginally a safety, he got the chance to play running back after excelling on Gran’s kickoff return team. He finished his career 9th on FSU’s all-time rushing list while getting nearly 6 yards per carry. He’ll finish his rookie year for the Bills with over 500 rushing yards.
- Ben Tate – Coached by Gran for a year in ’08 at Auburn, Tate has rushed for over 2,300 yards in the NFL.
- Montario Hardesty – A 1,000 yard rusher for Gran at Tennessee, Hardesty was a second round NFL Draft selection by the Cleveland Browns in 2010.
- Deuce McAlister – Gran’s premiere running back during his Ole Miss tenure, McAlister rushed for 6,093 yards and 49 touchdowns over nine seasons for the New Orleans Saints.
- Rudi Johnson – An Auburn alum, Johnson was the featured back for the Bengals during their first playoff run in the early 00’s. Johnson had similar stats to McAlister, getting 49 TDs and nearly 6,000 yards over 8 NFL seasons.