Kanye West infamously walked to the stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards as Taylor Swift was accepting the award for Best Female Music Video. He grabbed the microphone, “Yo, Taylor. I’m really happy for you and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. “
Chris Rumph walked up to the podium on Friday and did the same thing to every conference in college football. Ohio State and the Big Ten won a national championship last year, “Urban, I’m gonna let you finish, but the SEC is the best conference of all-time.”
Well, it didn’t go quite like that, but close.
“Ain’t nothing like it. There’s nothing like the SEC. I can say that, you know, playing in it, coaching in it before, had a chance to go to another conference and getting the chance or opportunity to come back is very competitive man,” said Rumph. “Every week, every week you gotta be on your game, so as a coach you love the challenge. Every week it’s on the line.
“I say that, not to knock any other conference or any other schools, it’s just different, man. It’s different.”
Rumph was born in St. Matthews, South Carolina — a fact that he says is often misreported and one that he wanted to set the record straight about.
“I’ve been getting threats on my life,” Rumph deadpanned. “From my homeboys and my homegirls back at home. Every time they see something it says that I’m from Orangeburg, South Carolina. All right? I’m from St. Matthews, South Carolina. St. Matthews. All right?”
Rump stayed instate for college and helped lead South Carolina to their first bowl victory in 1995. He was a graduate assistant at South Carolina before returning to his high school — Calhoun County — where he served as head coach for five years. He made stops at South Carolina State, Memphis and Clemson before he made his way back to the SEC at Alabama. Rumph coached the Crimson Tide defensive line from 2011-13 before joining Charlie Strong inaugural staff at Texas.
Rumph made it one year at Texas before the SEC and Jim McElwain came calling. The chance to get back into the SEC was too much for Rumph to pass up.
“I think initially it was a shock,” Rumph said of Strong’s reaction to learning he was going to Florida. “I don’t want to sound conceited or anything, but he definitely didn’t want to lose a coach, to not only Florida, but to any university.”
Rumph arrived as the second to last coach on staff, replacing Terrell Williams, who was with the program for just a couple of months.
Rumph has a no-nonsense mentality. Asked how his best defensive lineman Jon Bullard was doing this spring, Rumph responded just “ok.”
There was some laughing in the room. Most coaches wouldn’t say anything that could be construed as negative about one of their best players. Rumph continued on saying Bullard needs to learn how to be a professional, learn the whole playbook so he knows what every player on the defense is doing and that will teach him the “why” of what Rumph is telling him to do.
“I heard a coach I used to work for before say, ‘he’s looking through a straw; he’s not seeing the big picture,’” Rumph said. “So once he understands why, not only him, but he rest of those guys, then they will stop doing some of the things they’re doing and start making sense and start clicking. It will come together and then they can play faster.”
Rumph’s happy to be back in the SEC. He’s back in the south where it’s home. His family is just a short drive up I-95. He can go and visit his parents and siblings and maybe even drop his kids off at his parents house for some vacation time with his wife.
“My parents are getting older, 75 years old. I’ve got two boys so they get a chance to see them grandbabies,” he said. “Me and my wife can dump them off and go on vacation ourselves, that’s good. Don’t tell them that.”
But mainly, he’s happy to be back in an atmosphere with a coaching staff hat he enjoys being around and a group of young men that are willing and ready to learn. They’re young but talented and, most importantly, they’re buying into what he’s selling.
“They flash, they fool you. I tell them it’s just like a girl I dated in high school. She told me she was going to take me to the prom,” said Rumph. “I’m getting my haircut, getting my brother’s car, washing it, cleaning it, all that stuff. I’m all excited about it then all of a sudden she calls and says, ‘I’m going to go with your best friend.’
“So that’s how they are. They flash. They tell me they’re going to take me to the prom but we haven’t gotten there yet.”