Grant Teaff's final game as Baylor's head coach was a 20-15 Bears' victory over Arizona in the 1992 Sun Bowl. He spent the next two years as the university's athletics director before becoming executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, a position he held until his retirement in February.
More than two decades removed from his official role as a Baylor employee, Teaff's influence and guidance with the school remains prevalent. So, when Baylor needed to quickly find a football coach in June--an inopportune time for such a task, Teaff pointed the Bears in the direction of former Wake Forest and Ohio University head coach Jim Grobe, who was named Baylor's acting head coach May 30.
"He certainly was my first choice of anybody that qualifies--a great coach, a great person, a man of integrity, a great leader and also was not coaching and did not have a staff or a team to worry about at this stage of the game," Teaff said. "My dealings with Jim and my knowledge of him, I knew that he would be the absolute perfect fit at this stage. He's a very wise person and handles himself nicely in all circumstances, and he is a terrific football coach."
A Huntington, W.Va., native, Grobe played football at Ferrum [Va.] College and the University of Virginia, where he earned academic all-conference honors as a guard and linebacker. His coaching career began at his alma mater as a graduate assistant before assistant coaching stints at Liberty High School and Emory & Henry College in Virginia, Marshall University and the Air Force Academy, where he coached for 11 seasons.
Grobe was named head coach at Ohio University in 1995, taking over a program that won 17 games in the previous decade and endured a winless season in 1994. His Bobcat teams won 16 games in his first three seasons, including an 8-3 record in 1997. Grobe finished 33-33-1 in six seasons at Ohio before being hired as head coach at Wake Forest prior to the 2001 season.
Wake Forest was another reclamation project; the Demon Deacons were two years removed from a bowl appearance but it was their lone winning season since 1992. After going 6-5 in his first season, Grobe led Wake Forest to a 7-6 record and a Seattle Bowl victory in 2002.
Grobe's best season at Wake Forest was 2006 when the Deacons went 11-3 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference, the second conference title in the program's 128-year history and first since 1970. He was named 2006 Associated Press National Coach of the Year, Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year.
Wake Forest is a Baptist school with an enrollment of 7,669 students making it the smallest in the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) by more than 2,300 students. Nonetheless, the Deacons competed with traditional football powers Clemson, Florida State and the University of Miami during Grobe's tenure, earning five bowl bids and defeating Florida State three times in a four-year span.
"It's very difficult to be competitive in the ACC year in and year out," Teaff said. "But he could play with anyone and did. There are a lot of good coaches that never get the opportunity where all the good players and the good facilities are. He has that chance now, and I think he'll do extremely well."
Praise of Grobe extends well beyond Teaff. FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman called Grobe “a man of integrity," and ESPN's Joe Schad said Grobe is "one of the most reputable, honorable coaches I've ever met."
Eight-year NFL veteran Steve Vallos, who earned All-America honors under Grobe at Wake Forest in 2006, said his former coach is straightforward both as a coach and a person.
"He expects a certain thing out of his players and coaches and lets them know," Vallos said. "This attitude filters throughout the program and makes the players and staff live up to their potential."
In his introductory press conference, Grobe made it clear that he brings that same demeanor to Baylor's program.
"I'm committed to supporting the university and the athletic department in creating a safer environment for all students," Grobe said. "Nothing in our program will be more important than character. Winning is very, very important, but not at the expense of character and integrity. Every decision we make going forward will be made with Baylor University and all of our students and student- athletes in mind."
Grobe holds a Bachelor of Science in education and a master's degree in guidance and counseling, both from the University of Virginia. He and his wife, Holly, have two sons and three grandchildren.