Grunhard preaches toughness

Three days after Charlie Weis was hired in early December, Tim Grunhard agreed to become his offensive line coach. Now, the long-time Kansas City Chiefs center and former Roeland Park (KS) Bishop Miege High head coach is hoping to create a culture of toughness in the trenches for the Jayhawks.

In Tim Grunhard's mind, there was never any question this was the right opportunity for him.

Charlie Weis was hired by the University of Kansas to helm its football program Thursday, Dec. 8. One of his first calls was to Grunhard - at the time the head coach at Roeland Park (KS) Bishop Miege High School - and three days later Weis had himself an offensive line coach.

It happened that quickly.

"This is something Coach Weis had offered me before (at Notre Dame), and it just wasn't the right situation," Grunhard said. "This just turned out to be the perfect situation for me. I've always wanted to work with Coach Weis. I've always respected the way he goes about doing his business, and I've wanted to be a part of that."

With the Jayhawks, he is tasked with breathing life into the front lines of an offense that ranked at or near the bottom of the Big 12 in virtually every statistical category in 2011.

From his perspective, doing so won't be about teaching fundamentals or perfect technique. It will be about changing the attitude of every lineman under his watch.

"The first thing about my philosophy is, we've gotta have a bunch of tough, physical kids who want to compete," Grunhard explained. "Are their hands going to be in the right spot all the time? Absolutely not. Are they going to make a mistake? You're darned right they're going to make a mistake. But when you make a mistake you play physical, you play hard and you're going to be a tough S.O.B."

One of the ways in which he hopes to elicit that change is through the spirit of competition. However, he doesn't intend to wait until Spring Football fires up in a couple of months to begin that process.

In fact, it's already underway. In the classroom, the weight room - pretty much everywhere, honestly - the Kansas football team is already competing, and they're being held accountable for it by the coaching staff.

Weis has made it abundantly clear he has what might understatedly be described as limited patience with those who would miss, or even show up late, to class or workout sessions. It's a mentality Grunhard has readily adopted as well.

The goal is to ensure that toughness becomes a trait virtually encoded onto the DNA of every last one of his linemen.

"I could sit here and tell you the fundamentals of putting your hands inside and 'We're going to run the zone,'" Grunhard said. "That's not it. I think people get way out of touch with that. Offensive and defensive line play is about being the toughest son of a buck on the field. It's as simple as that."

There's an additional benefit to Weis bringing him on board the staff as well. Grunhard spent 11 years - his entire professional career - as the center of the Kansas City Chiefs, retiring in 2000. In 2006 he took over the program at Bishop Miege, and led the Stags to five consecutive district titles and the 2009 Kansas Class 4A state championship.

His name is one which resonates throughout the football community in Kansas City, on both sides of the state line, and has for more than two decades. As a result, his impact on the recruiting trail - especially locally - is potentially extremely significant.

Ideally, they would sign four or five prospects from the Kansas City area every year, Grunhard explained. That way, five years down the line, a quarter of the team is comprised of local talent.

At that point, if their success on the field matches their success in recruiting, a sense of ownership in Kansas football should begin to emerge within the region.

"There's always about five or six or seven Division One football players now in the Kansas City area," Grunhard said. "We need to get about half of those. That's our goal - to get half of those kids and make sure that they think the University of Kansas is their school."

"Now, we have to win football games," he added. "You can sell all the different aspects - the great academics, or that it's close (to home) - but kids want to win. We're going to have to win, and we're going to have to sell that. We want ownership in Kansas City."