FootballScoop is proud to announce that Jeff Grimes is the 2021 FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
We now live in the era of the transfer portal, where struggling programs can tell themselves a successful season is one transformative acquisition away. But in 2021, no acquisition across the entirety of college football had a greater impact than Jeff Grimes' hiring at Baylor.
To truly understand Grimes' impact, one must first reckon with what he inherited.
Together with offensive line coach Eric Mateos, Grimes arrived in January and quickly went to work revamping a toothless Bears offense. In 2020, head coach Dave Aranda's first year, Baylor finished 118th in total offense (310.2 yards per game), third-to-last in yards per play (4.44), 123rd in rushing (90.3 ypg), 94th in passing efficiency, and 100th in scoring, mustering just 23.3 points per game.
Aranda and Grimes bet big on the wide zone offense, and that bet hit the jackpot. With Grimes on staff, Baylor went from a 2-win team in 2020 to Big 12 champions in 2021.
Baylor's revolution began on the ground. The Bears went from worst-to-first on the Big 12 rushing charts, pacing the conference and placing 14th nationally with 215.2 yards per game on 5.27 a carry. That includes a 419-yard, 5-touchdown effort on nearly 10 yards per carry against Texas Southern, but also 300-yard games versus Kansas and BYU, and a 297-yard effort in the win over Oklahoma.
Abram Smith, a converted linebacker, finished second in the conference with 1,429 yards, eighth nationally, and only Doak Walker Award winner Kenneth Walker III rushed for more yards per carry over more totes than Smith's 6.16 average over his 232 rushes.
But Smith was not Baylor's only running threat. Backup running back Tristan Ebner rushed for 763 yards, change-of-pace runner Taye McWilliams posted 181 yards on 10.6 a carry, and quarterback Gerry Bohanon added 303 yards and nine touchdowns.
Speaking of Bohanon, Grimes' offense allowed the first-time starter to blossom in his system. The junior hit 64.1 percent of his passes for 2,154 yards (8.3 per attempt) with 17 touchdowns against six interceptions.
With Bohanon battling injuries down the stretch, freshman Blake Shapen stepped in and hit 72 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions while starting the Bears' final two regular season games and the Big 12 Championship. Shapen's last game was his best, hitting 23-of-28 throws with three touchdowns in the Bears' 21-16 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma State.
Offensive lineman Connor Galvin was a First Team All-Big 12 performer, while wide receiver Tyquan Thornton and Smith were Second Team honorees.
While Baylor was much better at pushing the ball down the field through the ground and in the air, the Bears also drastically cut down their losses. The same offensive line that finished 117th nationally in sacks allowed in 2020 ranked 18th in 2021, chopping their average down by two sacks per game.
Except it wasn't the same offensive line protecting the same offense. It was a totally different unit, because Jeff Grimes was their coach.
Grimes joined the Baylor staff from BYU, where he was the offensive coordinator from 2018-20. A UTEP graduate, his coaching career began at El Paso Riverside High School; his first college job came as a GA at Rice in 1995. His first full-time job was at Hardin-Simmons University, and from there Grimes coached offensive lines at Boise State, Arizona State, BYU, Colorado, Auburn, Virginia Tech and LSU, before landing the BYU offensive coordinator job. Along with Aaron Roderick, Grimes was a finalist for this award in 2020.
"Jeff's a great person," Dave Aranda said. "He's got a great heart. He is a great fit for Baylor, how authentic he is, how much he cares for them as people."
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Josh Gattis [Michigan], Zach Kittley [Western Kentucky], Warren Ruggerio [Wake Forest], Mark Whipple [Pittsburgh] and Grimes) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Previous winners of the Offensive Coordinator of the Year award are Kevin Wilson (Oklahoma, 2008), Bryan Harsin (Boise State, 2009), Gus Malzahn (Auburn, 2010), Kliff Kingsbury (Houston, 2011 and Texas A&M, 2012), Philip Montgomery (Baylor, 2013), Tom Herman (Ohio State, 2014), Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma, 2015), Lane Kiffin (Alabama, 2016), Josh Heupel (Missouri, 2017), Mike Locksley (Alabama, 2018), Joe Brady/Steve Ensminger (LSU, 2019), and Steve Sarkisian (Alabama, 2020).
+98 Spots Nationally, Yards Per Play
+109 Spots Nationally, Rushing Offense
+64 Spots Nationally, Scoring Offense
Two wins to Big 12 Champions
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