AUBURN – The decision was not easy for Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. It was, in fact, the toughest professional decision of his life.
Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes/Phillip Marshall photo
Two days after celebrating a national championship, Grimes flew to Austin to interview for a job at the University of Texas. He was offered a title to go along with coaching the offensive line and a lucrative financial package.
Most importantly, both Grimes and his wife, Sheri, are Texas natives.
“I was raised in Texas,” Grimes told AuburnUndercover.com on Monday. “My wife’s family is still in Texas. For a kid from Texas, a chance to go to the University of Texas, it’s hard to say no to. Anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second look.
“I think the world of Mack Brown. They treated us right. They did everything they could to make it right.”
But in the end, it wasn’t right for Grimes, his wife and their four children. Auburn was right.
“I’m not going to make a move if it’s not the right situation for my family,” Grimes said. “We love everything about Auburn. It’s a great fit for Sheri and the kids. I think it’s just a great fit for all of us. It’s about the Auburn family, the values, the kinds of kids I get to coach. All those things I kept coming back to.”
By Sunday, Grimes had made up his mind. Despite the call from his home state, he would remain an Auburn Tiger.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t strong enough to overcome how we feel about Auburn,” Grimes said. “We talk in recruiting all the time about recruiting Auburn men – good kid, right values, blue-collar, hard-working kid. The Auburn Creed is something more than just what you say. I kind of feel like that’s what I am and what we are as a family.”
Eight days ago, Grimes celebrated the highlight of his coaching career when Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship Game. For him, it was a bittersweet night. Five senior offensive linemen – Lee Ziemba, Ryan Pugh, Mike Berry, Byron Isom and Bart Eddins – played for Auburn for the final time.
“I’m going to miss those seniors so much,” Grimes said. “After the game, I was in tears, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of starting over with some new guys, looking forward to getting these young pups going.”
The memory of the scene on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium, Grimes said, will be with him forever.
“Man, what an unbelievable experience to think about where we started this season, all the pressure when you keep winning,” Grimes said. “It was one of those storybook seasons. It was an unbelievable to stand out there after the game and bask in it all, then have your family come down. It was just a great experience.”