Joe Medley: It was no ‘championship,’ but Grass scores victory
by Joe Medley
Feb 06, 2014 | 2600 views |  0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Grass is Jacksonville State's new head football coach. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
John Grass is Jacksonville State's new head football coach. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Recruiting analysts use the word “championship” when discussing college football’s most watched off-field games. By once again signing the nation’s top-rated class, Nick Saban just won his sixth recruiting “national championship” at Alabama.

So say those who declare such things.

The term doesn’t find its way into recruiting discussions below the highest levels of college football. Any notion that recently promoted JSU coach John Grass just won a Football Championship Subdivision recruiting national championship would be highly subjective.

But if we’re to discuss off-field games like real games, then call Grass’ first JSU class a regular-season victory.

For the sake of discussion, dub Grass unofficially 1-0 at JSU.

The class JSU signed after Bill Clark’s departure to UAB and Grass’ quick promotion from offensive coordinator, which came fewer than three weeks short of National Signing Day, shows Grass held JSU’s ground.

That, in and of itself, was a minor victory and, likely, the best possible result under the circumstances.

There were reaching effects from Academic Progress Report-related sanctions. Clark’s only JSU team, which won 11 games and reached the FCS quarterfinals, had a small senior class.

Then factor in the possible state of JSU’s recruiting relationships.

When Clark came to JSU a year ago, the hope was that his history as a high school coach in Alabama and relationships with coaches around the state would give JSU a badly needed boost that way. Clark made significant inroads.

Then again, Clark stayed only a year. The worry became whether the cement on JSU’s improved recruiting relationships had time to dry.

Part of the laudable logic of promoting Grass was that he had helped Clark to improve those relationships. Besides being one of Clark’s coordinators, Grass was assistant head coach and, like Clark, a recent former high school head coach in Alabama.

Their contact lists had lots of overlap.

With JSU playing its best hand under the circumstances, Grass got promoted and launched immediately into a major recruiting weekend. So began the short chute to signing day, when JSU would learn whether its gains held.

FCS recruiting doesn’t get the scrutiny that major-college recruiting draws, so things can be murky. Still, indications are that JSU’s gains largely held.

That JSU’s coaching change came late in the recruiting game might have helped Grass. By that time, made minds might be less likely to change.

A better gauge will come in 12 months, when Grass signs his first class after a full year as JSU’s head coach. He won’t have the benefit of already committed recruits, and next year’s recruits will have seen what JSU football looks like under his leadership.

Too, Clark will have a full year to compete against Grass for some of the same recruits.

But the foundation of JSU’s improved recruiting relationships appears to remain intact. There was no collapse.

That means that Grass passed his first test as JSU’s head coach. He scored a victory in the off-field games that make it possible to win on the field.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Medley at Twitter: @jmedley_star.
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