To say that coaching is in Mike Grant’s blood is putting it mildly. Grant, the Head Coach at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota, is the son of Bud Grant, the long-time Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Bud Grant coached the Vikings from 1967-1985 and helped them reach four Super Bowls and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Eden Prairie has become the most dominant high school program in the state. EPHS has won seven state championships, including last fall, since Grant became head coach in 1992. There are 300 players currently in the program and more than 800 in grades 3-8. EPHS is the largest high school in Minnesota with 3,100 students and there are 114 players on the varsity team. They have won 95% of their games since 1996.
Mike Grant played at St. John’s University under legendary coach John Gagliardi who has the most wins of any coach in college football history. Grant’s 1976 team won the Division III Championship and he later coached on Gagliardi’s staff. He also has embodied a number of Gagliardi’s philosophies with his Eden Prairie team.
This includes never yelling at his players and, like Gagliardi, believing in meticulous preparation for each game. Another Gagliardi philosophy has also helped serve Grant well. Neither coach believes in tackling during the course of daily practices. “Our whole idea is that we want our best players to play in the games,” said Grant. “I know coaches say that but some go out during the week and hit in practices and it’s really the survivors of the week that play in the next game.”
Grant also has his own philosophy. “Our emphasis is on speed, agility, and explosive strength,” said Grant. “We emphasis three things to improve the development of our players – the dot drill, plyometrics, and the power clean.”
Grant has now coached for over 20 years and also serves as the athletic director at the school. His son Ryan, now a linebacker at Minnesota, was the quarterback of two back-to-back state champions as Eden Prairie went 28-0. Grant’s son Taylor now plays for his dad on the varsity.