One of the less conspicuous, less known staff additions is that of offensive analyst, John Grass. I admit to not even knowing who he was, or knew of his success as a head coach. By all accounts, he’s a great offensive mind, so I was intrigued.
Grass is the former head coach of the Jacksonville State University Gamecocks. Yes, a convert from a chicken coop to the Valley of the Tigers proves maybe the grass really is greener in Clemson. I wanted to introduce myself and you to the Tigers newest addition.
Grass, hired in 2013 as offensive coordinator, was named head coach of the JSU Gamecocks in 2014 after Bill Clark left to fill a coaching vacancy at the University of Alabama Birmingham. During the 2014 regular season, the Gamecocks went 10–1 and received the No. 3 seed in the FCS playoffs, winning the Ohio Valley Conference outright for the first time.
During the 2015 season, the Gamecocks again won the OVC Championship outright. They narrowly lost to Auburn in an overtime game, and went on to play North Dakota St in the FCS National Championship, where they lost 37-10. JSU’s record finished at 13-2.
The 2016 season was also a successful season for JSU, where they again won the OVC Championship outright, and were granted the No. 3 seed for the FCS Playoffs. Grass’ third season as head coach finished during the second round of the FCS Playoffs, where they were upset by the Youngstown St. Penguins 40-24 at home.
His overall career record, all at JSU, stands at 72–26. Under his direction and leadership, his teams won six Ohio Valley Conferences Championships. He was also honored with three Ohio Valley Coach of the Year Awards.
His JSU teams had five 10 plus wins seasons, one 9 win season and a 6-6 season in his seven full seasons with the Gamecocks, all in the Ohio Valley Conference. They would join and compete in The Western Athletic Conference for the 2021 season.
After an uncharacteristically rough 4-5 start, Grass resigned as head coach on November 8, 2021 with two regular season games left to play. No reason was given, but it was a mutual decision by Grass and the administration. It was speculated, Grass had grown tired of the day-to-day grind of his head coaching duties and felt the need to move on. He did and in a matter of a month, he was brought to Clemson as an offensive analyst, a job that certainly suits his skill set.
After Clemson’s 2021 season and the offensive struggles, Grass offers a fresh set of eyes and a career’s worth of offensive knowledge to offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter’s staff. He should be a great addition as the Tigers look to add some new twists and energy to a very talented and experienced roster.
As an analyst, he won’t be seen pacing the sidelines. His work will be done behind the scenes. Expect Grass to become a vital part of Clemson’s offense going forward. He’s already proven, by his prior success, he’s the right man for the job. It’s safe to assume, even for a former “Gamecock,” he’ll find the grass in Clemson’s Death Valley, is indeed greener.
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