Oct. 6, 2010
By Adam Shrigley, Seminoles.com
The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Florida State’s football program under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher looks nothing like it did last fall, and many Seminole fans are curious as to what to expect with a new man at the helm.
Despite drastic changes, some of the dynamics run parallel to the path the program followed the past three decades. Look no further than first-year running backs coach and special teams coordinator Eddie Gran, whose inspiration through faith, family, and football echo the values head coach Jimbo Fisher instills.
When daughter Sydney was born with a tragic birth defect, the Gran family’s life was turned upside down. In his high-pressure vocation, Gran totally refocused his outlook on life; his new priorities became God, family, and football.
Entering his 24th year in coaching, the transition to Florida State was routine for Gran, whose ties to Fisher date back to recruiting battles the two had at Auburn and LSU.
“Probably the biggest thing is the number of times we competed against each other on and off the field,” Gran said. “He knew the style of coaching I had and the recruiter I was. It was an honor when he picked me to come join the staff at FSU.”
It wasn’t just the personal relationship that sold Fisher on Gran. An impressive coaching resume, which includes NFL stars such as Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams and Brandon Jacobs as former students, surely helped. Gran credits his knack for developing high school talent into some of college football’s elite to his notable mentors, among them Tommy Tuberville and Dennis Erickson. They taught Gran the value of work ethic, which remains the foundation of what he preaches daily to his players.
The addition of Gran to the Florida State program was an exciting start to the most notable offseason in school history. Coinciding views and confidence among the staff was crucial in their overall dynamic.
“After about two weeks you felt like you’ve been at this place for over ten years,” Gran said. “I haven’t felt that way, the way I feel now. Everybody’s pulling in the same direction, everybody’s pulling that train…so it’s been phenomenal.”
Gran’s addition serves as a perfect complement to offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Together they provide FSU with one of the best run-oriented coaching tandems in the country, combining for 62 years of coaching experience.
“I’m very lucky to work with Trickett,” he added. “I know from what he did at West Virginia that he’s considered one of the best in the country. I think he is the best in the country he’s such a great technician. If the backs know what the scheme is and what the (lineman are) supposed to be doing up front, and vice versa, then we can be more effective as a run offense. So I think those two go hand in hand and it’s very important.”
Despite the pressures of coaching major college football, there’s much more to Gran’s routine than what happens on Saturdays. The May 2005 loss of his daughter Sydney, who was born with a rare disease called holoprosencephaly (HPE), gave Gran a new outlook on life.
“You really have to put this job into perspective because of our society, because of human nature,” Gran said. “It’s still a game and you’ve got to figure out what’s important in your life. God’s first in my life, family is second, and Florida State is third because Florida State is my job and I’ve got a great passion for all three.
“(Sydney) affected so many different people and I understand now what humility is. I understand what real courage is. It’s not these guys being tough and playing football. I watched a little girl struggle and do some things that you don’t want to see but she continued to battle. So as a father and now a coach and a husband, that experience has made me better at all those phases and I Hope in the long run she’s made me a better person.”
Gran and his wife, Rosemary, have established The Sydney Gran Family Support Fund (www.sydneygranfoundation.org) to provide assistance to families impacted by catastrophic illness.
While Gran’s passion for coaching is readily evident, so too is his character, humility, and genuine faith. They all seem to fall perfectly in place in a new home, where those qualities have remained a part of the Seminole tradition.