Eddie Gran has decided to take a business-like approach to Saturday's game against Auburn at Neyland Stadium. That's nothing new.
"He never lets his guard down," Tennessee freshman tailback David Oku said of his position coach. "If you try to laugh or something like that (at practice), he'll look at you (and say) 'This is all serious.'
"I think that's what separates him and makes him a good coach. He's always grinding on you to make sure you do good."
Gran grinded for a decade at Auburn before his mentor, Tommy Tuberville, was fired following the 2008 season.
"I'm grateful for those 10 years," Gran said. "In our profession, if you can get 10 years somewhere, that's unbelievable because you get your family intact and they have friends. We'll have friends there forever.
"If I can sign a 10-year deal here (at UT), I'd love to do it. It just doesn't happen anymore."
If Gran sets up roots in Knoxville, that should help the Vols. He's proved one of the UT's most valuable coaches. His tailbacks have excelled this season. He has strong recruiting ties in South Florida. And he coordinates UT's special teams.
Gran said he plans to be more involved in the Knoxville community - when time allows.
"We've really tried to get involved in the community and we're excited about that opportunity here," Gran said of his family. "It's been kind of a whirlwind when you start a program and get going.
"There's not a lot of time but we're excited about embracing it. I'm just excited about being in this league again. I think it would have been tough to go somewhere else."
Gran said he's planning a charity event to benefit the foundation that was started to benefit Children's Hospitals. Gran started the foundation when his daughter, Sydney, passed away in 2005 from a rare brain disease.
The Grans are close to raising enough money for the foundation to be endowed, self-sufficient and continue on in their daughter's name. Donations can be made at sydneygranfoundation.org.
Most of the donations the foundation received came from the Auburn football family via fundraisers and charity dinners. That connection means the ties between the Grans and Auburn run deep.
Perhaps the only way for Gran to not be distracted for Saturday's game (TV: ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) against Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) is to take that business-like approach that serves him well everyday in practice.
"I do have great relationships there but one thing I'm not going to do is make this thing personal," he said. "It's not about Auburn. It's not about Eddie Gran. It's about Tennessee and that's it. Period. The end.
"This is about Tennessee football and our fans and us trying to get our first SEC win to get back in the race and us play well at home in front of our fans."
One would think Gran would have some insight that might help the Vols (2-2, 0-1) get that first win. With a whole new coaching staff and a new offensive scheme at Auburn, the assistance is limited to what Gran knows about Auburn's personnel.
"I think you do," Gran said when asked if a coach can provide useful information on an old team. "Not anything that's going to help you win or lose the football game.
"You can just give a little bit more information, maybe about their personality, maybe about a 40-time. That's it. I really don't think that is a huge, huge advantage."