Griffin leaving as Demopolis defensive coordinator

Published 6:14 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Class 5A state champions will be in search of a new defensive coordinator after Rudy Griffin informed the program of his impending departure, opting to accept a graduate assistant position at Washington State University.

“We’ve won a lot of football games. My record for two years is 20-8. Demopolis will always have a place in my heart no matter where I am at,” Griffin said. “I am going to keep up with what Demopolis is doing. When I get on the road and start recruiting, I am going to make a special effort to come back to Demopolis.”

Griffin arrived in Demopolis in July 2008, filling a defensive coordinator spot rendered vacant when Brian Seymore accepted the head coaching position at Andalusia High School. Griffin was approved by the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education at the same time as Jeremy Sullivan, who coached the offensive line during the 2008 season before accepting the head coaching job at Citronelle High School.

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For the past two seasons, Griffin has presided over a defense that finished in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs in 2008 and won the state crown in 2009.

“No doubt he got better both years,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said of Griffin’s progress. “He did a really good job of connecting with our players and worked hard each week to come up with a game plan to stop folks. He’s got a really good passion for the game, and especially on the defensive side of the ball, he translated that passion and our kids played with that passion.”

The move reunites the now former DHS coach, a former standout defensive lineman at the University of Alabama, with Chris Ball, the Washington State co-defensive coordinator who coached the Crimson Tide safeties during Griffin’s Tuscaloosa tenure. In Pullman, Wash., Griffin will assume the duties of coaching the Cougar running backs, providing assistance to WSU backs and special teams coach Dave Ungerer, another former Tide assistant who coached special teams and tight ends during Griffin’s time at the Capstone. Griffin said those connections were instrumental in his ability to land the position.

“They struck me with the idea a few weeks ago and got back with me a week later and asked if I wanted to do it,” Griffin said. “It is a great opportunity to coach Division I football.”

“I think it is a great opportunity to make a name for himself and get in the door of Division I football,” Causey said. “Hopefully we’ve taught him some things here he can carry with him to Pullman, Wash. We’re looking forward to keeping up with him and following his career.”

Griffin said he has gained more than he has given during his Demopolis days, citing influences from Causey that he believes will prove lasting as he continues to climb the coaching ladder.

“Just in how to run an organization the right way,” Griffin said of the lessons he has learned from Causey. “He did it the right way. He took young boys and molded them into young men. That exemplifies a good coach more so than wins and losses. No matter where I end up, I will always use what I learned from Coach Causey.”

Griffin admitted that his ultimate coaching goal sounds far-fetched, but listed his dream job as the head football coaching position at his alma mater in Tuscaloosa, a role he considers “the peak of the mountain.” For now, he and his wife, Marquita, are focused on the challenges that lie ahead in the Pac-10.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Griffin, who leaves Demopolis June 2 said. “I’m excited about it, but nervous all at the same time because that is a huge step. I don’t know what to expect. I know when I first get up there, I’m going to kind of be in awe of the whole situation.”

Griffin not only leaves behind a defense that found success under his watch, but also a high school track program which he helped revitalize.

“He did a great job with track,” Causey said. “The last two years, we’ve had 10 or more kids qualify for the state meet. He did a good job of building our track program and took a lot of pride in being a track guy. It wasn’t just something he did in the spring to collect another paycheck.”

For more information on how the Griffin departure will impact the Tigers and what direction the program will seek next, see the weekend edition of The Demopolis Times.