Originally Published: October 2011
Hometown: Garland, Texas
Alma Mater: University of Texas-El Paso
• Hardin-Simmons University (1998-99)
• Boise State University (2000)
• Arizona State University (2001-03)
• Brigham Young University (2004-06)
• University of Colorado (2007-08)
• Auburn University (2009-Present)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” – Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
STV: What did winning last season’s BCS National Championship mean to you?
JG: It was an unbelievable feeling and very rewarding considering how hard we’d worked during the season. What I remember most, though, is the moment right after winning the championship and being able to celebrate it with my players and family down on the field. The relationships and the people I shared it with meant the most to me.
STV: Did last year’s title impact the way you prepared for this season?
JG: Certainly. Our kids have recognized what they can accomplish if they are willing to pour their hearts into something. We have a very young team this year after losing a lot of older guys, and, during the offseason, our staff saw how eager and willing our team was to work for us.
As we were discussing this in our coaches’ Bible study, we recognized that this gave us a huge opportunity for impact. These young kids have bought into us as coaches because they see what happens when they do what we ask of them. Now the challenge for us as a staff is to use that influence for more than X’s and O’s and to make a lifelong spiritual impact on their souls.
STV: As the offensive line coach, you work with players who generally aren’t in the spotlight. How do you keep them motivated?
JG: If you want to be great at anything, you’ve got to have a vision. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish...” Our vision and goal every year is to be the toughest offensive line in the country. Something that drives us to that is the camaraderie of our group and our unity and willingness to play for each other and the team. They are true examples of servant-leadership.
STV: How is faith integrated into the football program at Auburn?
JG: We’ve got a great Christian ministry at Auburn with [FCA Chaplain] Chette Williams and FCA overall. Obviously our players lean on Chette, but so do we as coaches. We have a weekly coaches’ Bible study, and the majority of the staff—from our athletic director to Coach Chizik on down—are believers. That influence runs throughout our program and is a fundamental part of our identity.
STV: Your family’s story about adopting your daughter from Ethiopia has been well-documented.* What did God teach you through that process?
JG: We learned that adoption is a perfect picture of what God does with us. He brings us into His family because He loves us. We loved Jada so much that we wanted her to be a part of our family. God doesn’t look at race, denomination or worship style. None of that stuff matters to Him. What matters is what’s in your heart.
Photos courtesy of Todd Van Emst/Auburn University