Head football coach, John Grass, steps down from the JSU football program

Courtesy of JSU Athletics

Preston Odam, Correspondent

Jacksonville State’s head football coach, John Grass, is stepping down from the position after an eight year tenure leading the Gamecocks and a one year stint as an assistant. Grass was sent off with a victory at Burgess-Snow Field against Abilene Christian in which JSU won 40-25 in their final home game of the season. JSU and Grass decided to mutually part ways which was confirmed in the post game press conference held Saturday after the win.

Jacksonville State’s athletics director Greg Seitz stated, “First, I’d like to thank Coach Grass for his service to Jacksonville State, our football program, and to our student-athletes for the past nine years. Since he was hired as our head coach in 2014, we’ve experienced new heights in FCS football, including a trip to the FCS Championship Game in 2015.” 

Grass took over the football program after serving as an offensive coordinator under former JSU head coach Bill Clark who now is the head coach for the UAB Blazers. During his one year as offensive coordinator, Grass’s offense broke numerous JSU and OVC records according to JSU Sports Information. Grass finishes his time at JSU with an overall record of 72-26. He also led the Gamecocks to six Ohio Valley Conference Championships. Five of the six championships he won came within his first five seasons as head coach. These records make Grass the most successful head coach JSU football has had since moving from Division II to Division I in the mid 1990s. 

“My time has come and gone here,” Grass said while addressing the media. “It’s been a great ride. It’s been unbelievable. You can’t put into words what has happened here. This will always be my home. We’ve raised our kids here for nine years. Me and my wife are both alumni. This place has done so much for me that I can’t ever repay it.” 

Grass also said, “As an era comes to an end, you look back and analyze it. There are so many special people that made what we’ve done here happen. God put so many special people in my life, and when we started it His hands have been on this program in so many ways. I like to win and hate to lose as much as anyone, but the lives that have changed with what God has done for our program has been unbelievable. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

John Grass has collected several personal accolades while coaching the Gamecocks. He is the first coach in the history of the Ohio Valley Conference to win the conference’s coach of the year honor for three consecutive years. Grass is also the first FCS coach to be named the American Football Coaches Association’s region coach of the year in five successive years. He also was awarded the AFCA’s national coach of the year following the 2015 season when the Gamecocks fought for an FCS championship. Grass had JSU in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs just this past spring season. 

The Gamecocks will now go into the last two games of the season with an interim head coach. JSU faces Lamar on the road next Saturday, November 13, for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Gamecocks will then travel to Richmond, Kentucky to finish the 2021 season against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, November 20 . JSU will begin construction on a stadium expansion directly after the season ends. The move by Grass and JSU comes after a busy week as JSU announced a conference move into the Conference USA beginning in 2023. This move places the JSU Football Program in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The conference move will also take place one year after the first official football season for the ASUN who JSU joined just this past year. 

While speaking on the compelling conference move Seitz said, “With an exciting time on the horizon for Jacksonville State and Gamecock Football, we feel that the interest in our head coaching position will be greater than it ever has been. We will begin a nationwide search for our next coach, who will lead us into the FBS.”

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