Monday, August 20, 2012

Tim Grunhard’s gospel: No softies allowed on KU offensive line

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works his players through drills during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works his players through drills during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.


The hidden, swollen-knuckle world of line play, where the dirtiest, nastiest shots are taken and given, is no place for softies. It’s a mean place where Tim Grunhard thrived for Notre Dame and then the Kansas City Chiefs, but he has seen much nastier places.

Grunhard’s father, after serving as an Army airborne Ranger, served the city of Chicago as a violent-crimes detective.

“For almost 30 years, he was CSI before CSI was cool,” Grunhard said. “We’d drive around the South Side of Chicago, and he’d say, ‘I had a murder there. I had a murder over there. I had a murder behind that thing over there. A person was shot over there.’ My brother and I would be like, ‘Whoa.’”

Grunhard’s father, killed by prostate cancer, didn’t get to see much of his son’s NFL career, but the square-jawed son made good use of the toughness gene passed down to him from the square-jawed detective.

“That six inches between your backbone and your breastbone, your heart, is so important in the offensive-line position,” said Grunhard, who left his job as head football coach at Bishop Miege to coach Kansas University’s offensive line for Charlie Weis. “We can talk about hand placement and head placement and how we’re going to take our steps, you know, little fundamentals and techniques, and I could tell you all kinds of great jargon, and I could make up all kinds of terms, and I can wow you with all kinds of different stories about how to do things, but offensive-line play comes down to one thing: You’ve got to be a tough (S.O.B.). Simple as that. Right? Isn’t it? You tell me?”

Who’s going to tell him otherwise?

“You’re not going to get your head in the right spot all the time,” Grunhard continued. “You’re not going to get your hands right all the time. You’re going to get beat. But you’ve got to be mentally and physically tough. We’re going to talk about all the little things that you have to do, and we’re going to work on the little things, and we’re going to do all the things you have to do to get yourself in position to be tough, but if they’re not tough and they don’t want to compete, then they’re not going to play for me, simple as that.”

By “tough” he doesn’t mean growling, not shaving, eating steaks with bare hands. He means completing their tasks when they’re so exhausted that lesser men would be too spent to stand.

“If they’re not going to run to the line of scrimmage when they break the huddle, if they’re not going to finish plays, if they’re not going to finish down-field, and they’re not going to lift that running back up off the ground, and they’re not going to get (ticked) off when somebody hits their quarterback late, I don’t want them,” Grunhard said. “You can go to these clinics, and guys are making millions of dollars with their drop-steps and their hand placements, but it all comes down to one thing: If you don’t got a guy who wants to kick that guy’s butt in front of him, then you don’t got nobody.”

The more unpopular an offensive lineman is with the defensive linemen during practice, the more likely he is to climb up Grunhard’s depth chart.

“I remember Dan Saleaumua and I, we didn’t like each other very much because I was going so hard in practice,” Grunhard said.

Before the start of spring football, Grunhard vowed: “These guys are going to go hard in practice, and they’re going to compete. We’re going to compete, first of all in the classroom. If you’re late for class, you’re going to pay. If you’re not going to class, you’re going to pay. If you’re in that weight room, you better compete in the weight room. When it comes to the coaches’ stations, you better compete in the coaches’ stations. You have to learn to compete and push yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Once that happens, then and only then, you’re going to grow.”

Grunhard pointed to the work done by strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple and to the head coach’s standards as important in instilling discipline in the program.

“(Holsopple) put cones around the Jayhawk in the weight room,” Grunhard said. “You don’t step on your seal. At the beginning, they were stepping on the seal, and they were making them do 200 pushups. Nobody steps on that seal anymore. Little things like that, just challenging them to be great, respect your school, respect yourself and know that there’s discipline and there are consequences for everything you do.”

He’s also a big fan of his boss’ quick addition by subtraction.

“He set the precedent right away,” Grunhard said. “There are guys who aren’t here anymore for one reason or another because they weren’t doing things the way he wanted them done. That’s a great signal to other people that, ‘Hey, you’re going to do it our way, not your way, because our way works. Your way obviously doesn’t work. Understand that.’”


Thomas Young 9 years, 10 months ago

If Kansas overproduces like I think they might, Grunhard is going to be a key reason. If the OL is a strength, this is going to be a very good year.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I think we will really be able to see Grunhard's ability next season when we lose Zlatnik, Hawkinson, and Marrongelli. The guys there now have talent and should form a good line. Let's see what happens in a year when he is going to be breaking in some newbys. Would love to see a consistent line.

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't know, Bangkok. Senior Aslam Sterling will probably be ready to slide in at LT. That's if Lewandowski doesn't beat him out, and Weis sounds pretty confident in the guy. Senior Riley Spencer has good experience at RT. RS sophomore Dylan Admire in the middle. Senior Gavin Howard at guard. RS Sophomore Damon Martin at the other guard. Senior Randall Dent battling for a spot. That's a lot of guys who will be one year better in 2013. Maybe not Hawk, Z and Gelli, but not really newbies either.

Remember it wasn't until mid-season last year that people really started talking about Zlatnik. It's possible a guy like Howard could go through that kind of improvement this year.

After that, a slew of size and talent with a year of Holsopple under their belt. Beckman, Luhrsen, Connolly, Peters...

If Grunny can get Sterling and Howard cranking this year, I think he'll be able to keep filling the slots without skipping a beat.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with a lot of that. My point is that Sterling, Marten, Admire, Spencer, Peters, Howard, and others are merely players with potential at this point. Hawk, Zlatnik, and Marongelli have already shown they can be successful. If those three are good, it will have less to do with Grunhard than if the guys with the potential become good. Obviously he will have a lot to do with both, but you always have to give credit to the guys who are doing the molding. In general, you don't see that from a coaching staff for a couple years.

Steve Quatrocky 9 years, 10 months ago

Weiss' five year contract is about the right timeframe and I'm sure after he turns it around, part of the job is finding a successor.

Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 10 months ago

It looks like Charlie is grooming his son as successor.

John Randall 9 years, 10 months ago

Not any time soon – too young a head coach is like playing a freshman quarterback. CWjr will do some coaching and, I expect, do it well; but one of the things he knows (and he knows a hell of a lot) is that there are no shortcuts to working your way up. Doing is different from knowing.

Its kind of like an engineer with great grades who's never worked as a mechanic trying to design an automobile. He just ain't ready for that. My brother-in-law grew up on a hard-scrabble farm, went to a barely adequate high school, and graduated at KU with a little less than a B average in ME, The personnel manager who hired him told him that farm kid background meant as much to an employer as another degree or a straight A gpa would have.

jhox 9 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. The coaches and players have been saying the right things. It's time to put up or shut up. We've had an 8 month P.R. blitz, but will it result in wins? I can't wait to find out.

Danny Hernandez 9 years, 10 months ago

People are going to be in for a rude awakening when they line up opposite Kansas's O-line. Man, September 1st can't get here soon enough!

troutsee 9 years, 10 months ago

Grunny will have them ready to play. I am pumped. Bring it on

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 10 months ago

I know this article is about Grunhard, and I like him a lot. But the name that just keeps jumping out at me is Holsopple. I LOVE THIS DUDE! I am beginning to get a serious man-crush on the strength and conditioning staff!!!

Steve Quatrocky 9 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely! Hudy has been the driving force behind player development in our Basketball program for years! Doesnt matter how much talent you have if you arent big or strong enough to play at this level. It all starts in the weight room and I really like the cones around the Hawk discipline idea.

John Randall 9 years, 10 months ago

Andrea Hudy is a very positive force for KU men's b-ball, but that is not the same thing as being THE force. Keep a little perspective.

Holsapple is as good at his job as any hire Weis has made and that's a necessary aspect of a top-tier (even of a respectable) program. If coaches on the practice field and the mind on the sideline for Saturdays are up to finishing the job, there's a good chance the Jayhawks will soon be respectable (i.e. worthy of respect) soon and the possibility thing will keep moving that direction.

Jim Stauffer 9 years, 10 months ago

We don't have to wait until next year on Grunhard. He is starting out with a rookie right side of the line. This year will tell us a lot.

LSHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

We might be short on talent but this staff is going to ensure that this team brings it on every play, every down, every time and that is gonna result in making plays and winning some games. Love the attitude of this staff.

Brak 9 years, 10 months ago

"If you don’t got a guy who wants to kick that guy’s butt in front of him, then you don’t got nobody."

Love this comment and this is what I want to hear. This team the last few years didn't have that kind of fight in them so it will be interesting to see what they can do with it now that they have it.

edmondjayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I love the attitude from HCCW on down....but, these coaches better make sure that they don't grab a players face mask, cuss at 'em, yell at 'em, hurt their feelings...etc, etc or them and their parents might run to the AD and have them fired...making kids accountable is the start of winning games and eventually winning BCS games (like an Orange Bowl) for example. I love the quote "your way obviously doesn't work". In other words.."Turner Gill's way doesn't work".

John Randall 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank heaven we don't have an ultra liberal AD with the attitude of an east coast CFO anymore. I have a lot of faith that judgements will be made on the basis of the job getting done the right way for quite a while in our athletic department. We have seen that the left way doesn't work any better in the upstairs office than on the field or court of play.

april28 9 years, 10 months ago

Seriously? A political blast from a tea-bagger? Can't we keep this all sports, all the time?

Thank you and good night.

Thomas Young 9 years, 10 months ago

Perkins ran Mangino out because he was a jerk to donors. Perkins needed to raise cash, and Mangino was a jerk.

The entire mistreatment of players was BS to get hom out of the job.

Yes, we would be better off with Mangino still here. Of course, no one wants Mangino right now, do they? The real plus is Perkins being gone.

jhox 9 years, 10 months ago

Mangino's got fired because he qit recruiting the right guys and lost 7 straight games or so. If we'd have gone back to the Orange Bowl nobody would have cared about the way players were treated.

Jason Renfrow 9 years, 10 months ago

I would like to see one of our O-linemen get in a fight if Crist gets hit late.....much different attitude than the previous staff......LOVE IT!!

John Randall 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm no fan of fights. I'd much rather see the late hitter on a stretcher after the next play.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I would love to see us get in a fight when Okie state and K-State even steps on the field. Man, you stepped on our Jayhawk. You're gonna pay, beetch. Then, clear the bench and set the tone for the game. This is war.

Steve Reigle 9 years, 10 months ago

Winning starts with the coaches and this crew of coaches continues to impress me. I am really getting excited for football season.

bigtex 9 years, 10 months ago

Toughness and heart I'm in 110% with this guy!!!!

hucking_fawks_rock 9 years, 10 months ago

Just reading this guys comments made me want to kick someones ass. I can only imagine what the players feel like being around him every day. Here's to hoping good things await on the O-line.

Bee Bee 9 years, 10 months ago

IMAGINE THAT, being aggressive on the football field~! Dang, who would've ever thought of that? IF it happens it will be a nice change from the, Turner Gill philosophy of "HIT EM WITH YOUR PURSE!"

flyingfinn 9 years, 10 months ago

People that can not see that this staff is head and shoulders above the last one have never played football. I love his staff's attitude.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Is Sept 1 ever going to get here?

This coaching staff obviously 'gets it.' The question becomes: How long does it take to exorcise the demons of past seasons and past coaching staffs? Can you change the culture in just 9-12 months?

Ron Prichard 9 years, 10 months ago

Only 11 slow, long, agonizing days left, bville.

ironhead80 9 years, 10 months ago

If, Grunhard is doing these types of things now, walking the walk.We will know this season about the guys they have now, because of the talent and new coaching. Next year will be next year.

Ben Kliewer 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't know guys... sounds like he's being an abusive coach and we should probably fire him. Any Tweets of these guys' swollen knuckles? #sarcasmfont

Kirk 9 years, 10 months ago

It's all just talk. But it's good talk.

Martin Shupert 9 years, 10 months ago

I think Grunhard is the single biggest difference between ND and KU for CW. Let's hope it's a big enough difference. I was cleaning out my storage room this morning and saw the book "No Excuses" by CW. The next year, he had tons of excuses! Let's hope he doesn't need as many as he did then.

Martin Shupert 9 years, 10 months ago

Just keep in mind that ND's line was pushed around like they were toddlers by teams such as Tulsa, Navy, Boston College, etc. in the last years before they got rid of CW. These guys are obviously an upgrade from the Gil deal, but have yet to prove themselves in the world of college football... I hope this is the place they do.

Rivethead 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't understand why any Jayhawk is surprised by the power of Coach Holsopple and a "real" S&C program.

The reason we won an Orange Bowl is a guy by the name of Chris Dawson. He's the same reason K-State won 10 games last season. The moment he left are program and headed west the two programs began heading in opposite directions. That should be no surprise.

Success starts with an S&C program that is tough and holds kids accountable (unlike the program run by John Williams and his daily doses of Bible verses the last two seasons).

John Randall 9 years, 10 months ago

Heavens to Betsy! An article, long one at that, with dozens of comments posted and not one of them bashing Keegan. Is the KUsports clientele trying to achieve respectability?

HawkKlaw 9 years, 10 months ago

To be fair, Keegs didn't go with his usual "long, drawn-out metaphor that doesn't make any sense" approach on this article.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 10 months ago

Grunhard was considered by many one of the meanest, nastiest, most brutal offensive lineman of his day......I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

qringer 9 years, 10 months ago

Grunhard is a softy. Lots to love about this KU coaching staff.

Micky Baker 9 years, 10 months ago

This coaching staff is light years ahead of Turner Gill's!

Micky Baker 9 years, 10 months ago

11 days from today, we're going to learn a lot about this team. I'm excited. I think that maybe they're going to be underestimated!

Rivethead 9 years, 10 months ago

Before Bryant Young, the '49ers had an awesome d linemen by the name of Dana Stubblefield. We should have grabbed that guy. I wonder where he went to school?

Travis Shinkle 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry but I was NEVER this optimistic about KU's football when they hired the last guy. Are we going to win 10+ games? It'd be awesome but probably not. However, I do not think there's going to be the pathetic effort like last year. I do not believe this coaching staff, starting with Coach Weis is going to accept anything less than 100%.

There is lots to love about KU's staff...and as for Holsopple...he just sounds like a guy KU needs to keep around...

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