It was all but a foregone conclusion that Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran would be relieved of his duties following this football season, but he wasn’t the only coach to receive the boot.
Both Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw have removed from their roles by head coach Mark Stoops, UK announced via press release early Sunday afternoon.
“Eddie and I pondered about this for weeks and mutually agreed that this was the way to move forward,” Stoops said in the press release. “I appreciate Eddie for the true professional and friend that he is. I also want to recognize the success we had, going to a bowl game every year since his arrival, with a reflection of our shared vision to do what was necessary to win games.”
Gran came to Lexington in 2016. Since that time, he has served as the assistant head coach and running backs coach in addition to offensive coordinator.
“I want to thank President Eli Capilouto, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and, of course, Coach Stoops for the opportunity to be at Kentucky,” Gran said in the release. “Coach Stoops has always treated me like family, and our professional relationship is awesome.”
“I appreciate the hard work and loyalty of the coaches who have coached with me,” he continued. “I appreciate the support of the Big Blue Nation for five awesome years. And, thanks to the players for believing in me in good and bad times. I love you all and wish you nothing but the best.”
Hinshaw also joined the UK staff in 2016. He and Gran, who coached together at Cincinnati from 2013-15, have been joined at the hip for eight seasons.
“I greatly appreciate Darin’s hard work and commitment to our program,” Stoops said. “And [his] contributions to the success we’ve had.”
He was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach through his Wildcat tenure.
“I thank Dr. Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for the opportunity to coach at UK,” Hinshaw said in the release. “Mark Stoops is an unbelievable head coach, friend, and someone I look up to. It was an honor to be on his staff and coach the quarterbacks the last five years.”
“Lastly, I want to thank all the players I’ve coached at UK,” he said. “I love you all and will never forget the great victories and history we made at Kentucky.”
With Gran and Hinshaw running the offense, the Cats compiled a 36-26 record and made four bowl games in a row. If Kentucky takes a bowl invite this season, it would be a record-tying fifth straight for the program.
Despite the nearly unprecedented success with them in tow, the offense was never consistently electric, nor particular balanced. Kentucky only finished in the top nine of the SEC in total yards one time (2019), which was buoyed by a triple option-level 274 rushing yards per game.
That rushing attack always carried the offensive production significantly. The lack of passing game with Lynn Bowden under center last season was understandable, it was expected to take a big jump with Terry Wilson back in action.
But that leap never came. Kentucky averaged just 124 yards through the air in 2020, which is only seven more than it recorded in 2019. Overall, the aerial “assault” was anything but: the team ranked in the conference’s top ten one time (2017), while finishing last each of the past three seasons and 13th out of 14 in the inaugural campaign for the two coaches.
As arguably the most successful class of players in school history prepares to depart, Mark Stoops will attempt to usher in another new era of Wildcat football behind them. The search for a new coordinator and QB coach will begin immediately, with a focus on evolving the offensive attack.
“We’ll look to bring in new ideas and opportunities for an offense that is exciting for players and fans,” he said.
As he does that, Kentucky fans will continue to dream for more unprecedented success. It's safe to say whoever comes in will have mountainous expectations.