PROVO — BYU’s hire of LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes as offensive coordinator has ignited excitement and memories from his former Cougar linemen.
Ray Feinga, who is four years removed from an NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, currently works for the State of Utah, and the news was huge for the former All-American.
“I’m excited to have him back,” said Feinga. “I’m really pumped up and excited for the program to have Jeff back. ... He’s really a motivator. When he was with us he was really into technique. Most times a coach has one or the other, but he has the whole package. He knows the game and the game plan and he is really smart. His football IQ is off the charts.”
Sete Aulai was a center who played on some of BYU’s best offensive lines during the three seasons Grimes was at BYU. In fact, Grimes recruited Aulai to BYU from the junior college ranks in California and they formed an immediate bond. Aulai now works as a special agent for the attorney general of the State of Utah.
“To be honest, when I first heard about it, I didn’t believe it,” said Aulai. “I think it is great. I had a great time with coach Grimes. He played a critical role in me coming here. He and I related pretty well because I was not LDS and he is not LDS and that played a big part of me coming to BYU.
"He is a guy who takes care of you as a player. All the guys who played with him will say he knew his stuff. He absolutely was particular. He focused on the specific positions from the tackle to the center. He knew what he was doing and we all knew that.
“He was all about business, but he had that side of him that you could play around and joke with," Aulai continued. "He always had us over to his house for some grub and dinner.
“To be honest, I’m excited that he’s coming back. I’m excited for the players in the program now to be coached by Coach Grimes because it is an honor. The young bucks on the team should be honored that they have him there.”
How does Aulai feel Grimes will do as an offensive coordinator instead of an offensive line coach, which has been his niche?
“Every coach has his specialty and what he does,” he said. “But I remember having conversations with him back in the day and he said he’d like to be an offensive coordinator someday, so I’m not surprised he’s here and made it. You’ve got to give him his shot. He’s been to all these great programs like LSU and Auburn and all kinds of experience in the SEC. BYU should be grateful he can bring that to us.”
Former lineman Jake Kuresa, who spends time on ESPN 960 AM as a co-host with Ben Criddle, was one of the first former players to push hard for Grimes to return to Provo. The news made his year.
“My immediate reaction is I can’t believe they pulled it off,” said Kuresa. “There were a lot of moving parts to make this happen: Grimes and his desire to be an offensive coordinator; his humility to leave the SEC and come here; his respect for BYU and the time he spent in the community and being around the people here. His understanding of this system and all the things involved at BYU is a unique thing for someone at that level in coaching to take this job.
“It is impressive to me that Kalani (Sitake), Tom (Holmoe), the president of the university, or Board of Trustees who are largely responsible, were able to pull this off. BYU doesn’t always hire this way. So, to really dig deep into the pockets and allow Grimes to come to the point to say, ‘Well, I’ll be more than happy to come,’ is a very big deal.”
Said another O-lineman Eddie Keele: "I usually stay away from these things but I have to say that this is the best thing for BYU since LaVell. Grimes is the best and most rounded coach I have ever played for and that includes my short time in Oakland and New York. We are lucky today. I know he’ll have something to prove. My biggest fear now is that we will only have him for a few years."
Terence Brown, who owns his own financial advisory business in Raleigh, North Carolina, was one of Grimes’ players. Brown’s take is similar to his former teammates.
“I can’t be more excited for Grimes to be at BYU. This is a great hire and move for the program and he will make a huge difference,” Brown said. “As an offensive coordinator, I think he’ll bring discipline and organization and instill a great desire to compete and win in the players. They’ll love him.”
Brown said Grimes will bring an exactness to preparation and game planning and demand that players give their best effort on every play in practices and games. “It will be very evident what his impact will be immediate.”
Brown said Grimes will bring a wealth of experience from Virginia Tech, Colorado, Auburn and LSU, a factor that will prove huge for the progression of the program. "He may have more experience than anybody BYU has ever hired."
It remains to be seen who Grimes will retain or add to his staff in the coming days. A press conference is scheduled for Saturday morning at BYU to discuss changes in the program.