Virginia Tech offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’s first season with the Hokies will also be his last.
Grimes has accepted a job offer from LSU Coach Les Miles to become the Tigers’ new offensive line coach, according to two people in Virginia Tech’s athletic department familiar with the situation.
Grimes, 45, came to Virginia Tech last February from Auburn along with offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler as part of Coach Frank Beamer’s offensive coaching staff overhaul. It’s unclear at this point exactly why he’s leaving after just one season, but money was likely one of the factors.
Grimes was scheduled to make more than $280,000 over the next year at Virginia Tech. He earned $265,000 this past season, with Virginia Tech paying $150,000 and Auburn paying the rest as part of Grimes’s buyout. He also was due a $50,000 retention bonus if still on Virginia Tech’s staff on Jan. 1, 2015.
But LSU — which had the highest-paid assistant coaching staff in the country in 2013, according to USA Today — paid former offensive line coach Greg Studrawa $510,000 last year (Studrawa, the longest-tenured coach on Miles’s staff, left the team last week). Grimes will become the first coach to spend only one season on Beamer’s staff since Gary Tranquill was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 1994.
Like Virginia Tech’s entire offense, Grimes’s first year as an offensive line coach was a work in progress this past season. He had limited depth to work with and started a true freshman at left tackle (Jonathon McLaughlin) as the Hokies finished second-to-last in the ACC in rushing yards per game (119.8).
His real impact had been on the recruiting trail, where Grimes appeared to be on the verge of replenishing the Hokies’ offensive line with five 2014 recruits giving oral commitments to Virginia Tech. Colt Pettit (Deshler, Ohio), Tyrell Smith (Ramsey, N.J.), Brady Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) Eric Gallo (Holland, Pa.) and Billy Ray Mitchell (Paramus, N.J.) were all recruited primarily by Grimes and it remains to be seen whether any explore their recruiting options over the coming weeks.
Virginia Tech will likely look to fill Grimes’s vacancy quickly with National Signing Day less than a month away. Baltimore Ravens assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington, a former Virginia Tech offensive lineman, is expected to be at the top of the Hokies’ wish list. But Washington already reportedly turned down a lucrative offer to become Southern California’s offensive line coach last month.
Former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, currently the program’s recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach, could also be a candidate. Stinespring was previously Virginia Tech’s offensive line coach for eight years (1998-2005).