He's the son of one of the great NFL coaches who has led the Eden Prairie Eagles to eight state high school championships. Mike Grant, in an interview with The Examiner looks back at his playing days and an outstanding coaching career.
Grant played high school football at Bloomington Lincoln under the leadership of Gene Wise. "Great coaches and great teammates I had at Lincoln," he said.
Wise would reunite with Grant years later at Eden Prairie where he served as defensive coordinator.
Grant, the son of iconic Viking coach Bud Grant describe how ivery nfluential his father was as a coach. According to Grant, he knew "how to handle a team and how to handle players."
Among the Vikings greats he became friends with were Wally Hilgenberg, Roy Winston, Lonnie Warwick and Fran Tarkenton. Another was Jim Marshall. "What a great person he was to all of us," Grant said.
In college, Grant played at St. John's University for a man who would have a big influence on his coaching career, John Gagliardi. "John was a great technical person of the game and a great psychologist on how to work with teams.
"John was maybe one of the greatest influences on me in coaching and is one of my good friends."
Grant had an opportunity to succeed Gagliardi at St. John's when he retired after 60 years leading the Johnnies but he decided to stay at Eden Prairie. "Sometimes it's hard to leave something you've built," he said.
Before arriving at Eden Prairie in 1992, Grant spent nine years as the head coach at Forest Lake. "Forest Lake was a great place," he said.
When Grant, who also serves as the school's activities director came on board at Eden Prairie, the program didn't have a lot of success. But Grant got things turned around when the Eagles got off to a 7-0 start in his first season. He mentioned how he brought a winning culture to Eden Prairie football.
"We got more kids who want to have more fun with football and our numbers grew."
The Eagles won their first state title under Grant in 1996. "We had great kids and the kids really responded to the teaching they had the previous three years, The first one's always special."
Grant said the key to Eden Prairie's football success is having great kids. "Great young men that do what we ask them to do. Our kids work extremely hard to get prepared. They also work hard in the offseason."
He also cited the great coaching staff that has worked with him.
Perhaps his greatest moment mentoring the Eagles was the 2007 state championship when he coached his two sons Ryan and Taylor. Grant recalls standing on the field with his two sons, Bud and his family after winning the state title. "You can't get any better than that," he said.
Grant also mentioned about the Eagles playing in front of 8,000 fans at their home field, Aerie Stadium. "It's a great event on Friday night."
As the regular season wraps up for the Eagles against Hopkins, en route to sections and a shot at a third consecutive state title, Grant said the key is to win the turnover battlle and not have mental mistakes or injuries. "We've got to be a little bit lucky," he said.
Can Eden Prairie add another state championship to its trophy case? Section play begins October 25.