During the 2006 Fresno State Football season it became quite clear that our offense was lacking more than we are used to seeing. Whether it was the QB or the receivers someone was not doing their job while on the field. The Bulldogs experienced far too many three and outs and did very little to move the ball throughout the course of the game. While the Bulldogs have not hired an offensive coordinator to take over for Steve Hagen (who wasn't very good anyway) a hire has been made that I feel will impact Fresno State down the line. The hire I am speaking of is that of Jeff Grady. Many people who read the blog complain that I am far too negative with my point of views on this team and where they are headed. If you feel I am negative sit back and relax, this is going to be one of the more positive blogs I write during the off-season.
Jeff Grady endured a tumultuous career while at Fresno State. Many people remember him for being a failure on the field, but do remember he was injured often in his career. He was not nearly as bad a QB as many have made him out to be. In his first game he led the Bulldogs to a near upset of Wisconsin at Camp Randall as the Bulldogs lost 23-21 while losing their star WR Bernard Berrian in the process. Throughout the rest of 2002 Grady battled injury but helped the Bulldogs to a 9-5 record. Yes, Paul Pinegar was forced to take over during the season but Grady can never be accused of not giving his all while on the field. He had his share of bad games but Grady should be remembered for the fight and resolve he showed in games such as Oregon State where he led the Dogs downfield to win the game in the final seconds. However, this is not what will make Jeff Grady a great QB coach. Instead his mind is what is going to make Grady the type of coach we need here at Fresno State.
What many people don't realize is that Fresno State has a good history with Graduate Advisors/Assistants. Lane Kiffin filled the same position from 1997-1998 at Fresno State and today was hired by the Oakland Raiders. Although the Raiders job may not be the highest profile job it is quite amazing that a man from Fresno State now is the head coach for the Raiders at the ripe age of 31. Kiffin made a name for himself as the offensive mastermind behind USC's offense (a job he shared with Steve Sarkisian). Today he is looked at as an innovative coach that has the ability to change a program around. Jeff Grady has the opportunity to do exactly what Kiffin did. Grady will be the QB coach in 2007. Grady is a young man who has to have a goal of becoming more than just a QB coach with respect to his coaching career. Grady was always said to understand Fresno State's offensive system far better than anyone else that played during his tenure at Fresno State. While Grady did not have the most athletic ability or the strongest arm, his football i.q. was said to be far and above anyone else he shared the football field with. If this is true Grady should be able to shed some light on the QB position to players such as Brandstater and Colburn. What people need to realize is you do not have to have an outstanding background with respect to playing college football in order to be a great coach. Lane Kiffin was not the most decorated of college football players. Joe Paterno was never an accomplished college football player but the success he has had at Penn State is one very few can question.
Jeff Grady will be stepping into a very unique situation with respect to Fresno State. Yesterday I was asked if Fresno State would actually hire an offensive coordinator or if Pat Hill would call the plays this season. While I feel that Hill will hire an O.C. I do not believe it will make much difference with respect to play calling. However, if Grady can show that the QB position is greatly improved going into 2007 Hill may have thoughts of turning Grady into a O.C. Even if Hill decides that the O.C. spot is not for Grady there is little chance the rest of the nation will ignore what Grady does at Fresno State. I am quite sure he will help the QB's in the Bulldogs offensive system understand the game far better than ever before. With a coach dedicated to bringing QB's along the Bulldogs QB play should improve vastly over 2007. Jeff Grady will be a great coach at Fresno State. I know many did not like him during his playing years, but he is young, brings a freshness to the offense that is needed, and has a football i.q. that will only help the Bulldogs in the long run. Enjoy Jeff Grady because he could be another offensive gem that the Bulldogs eventually let get away.