In January, Johns Hopkins University and the football community lost a legendary figure in the sport when Hopkins head football coach Jim Margraff died suddenly of a heart attack at age 58.
Though the countless people who met Margraff are
still mourning his loss
, Margraff's legacy will live on with the man who replaced him. Former offensive coordinator Greg Chimera was named the Blue Jays' head football coach Feb. 22.
"I think one of the biggest honors in this whole process is my actual title is the James F. Margraff head football coach," Chimera said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Feb. 28. "So that's something I get to see every day on my nameplate and my business cards, and it's not something I take lightly."
Chimera, a former fullback for Johns Hopkins who graduated in 2009 after playing under Margraff, was named interim head coach Jan. 9, a week after Margraff died.
Now that he's officially the head coach, Chimera is tasked with continuing to build on a legacy that Margraff put together throughout nearly 30 years of coaching, during which he amassed 221 wins.
For Chimera, the way he approaches football comes from what Margraff taught him as a player and coach and eventually as a friend.
"This is the only place I've coached, so everything I've gained in my career and what I'll do as a head coach is directly because of Coach Margraff," Chimera said. "I think everything from a little daily lesson to [the] big picture and how we run practices will be a direct reflection of what Coach taught me."
It would be easy to assume that Chimera would simply step in and continue doing exactly what Margraff did during the last three decades. The results are hard to discount: at least a share of the Centennial Conference championship in every season since 2009, just six conference losses in 10 years and a spot in last season's Division III NCAA Tournament semifinal.
But Chimera wants to make the job his own while continuing to use what Margraff taught him. Chimera said "there's just going to be little things throughout our program that will be slightly different."
"We're not the same person," Chimera said. "Your individual personality comes out as a part of your team, so I think the general course structure of what we do will be very similar. I think we're going to look the same to the outside eye, [but] … I'm not going to try to be Coach [Margraff], and it's impossible to fill his shoes."
Chimera has a solid foundation on which to start. With Chimera serving as the offensive coordinator, the Blue Jays averaged more than 45 points while compiling 550 yards of total offense per game in 2018. However, Chimera pointed to his players for the team's success, not his own abilities.
"At the end of the day it's hard to live without good players," he said. "I've been blessed with great quarterbacks, who are the main reason that the offense has been going, and great people around those quarterbacks. I wish I could take the credit but all the credit goes to our players."
The biggest key moving forward will be continuing to recruit talented players, Chimera said, something that Margraff valued over all else.
"We've had to go nationwide to get players and our admissions have gotten increasingly more difficult over the years. Even from last year, it's gotten more difficult," Chimera said. "I think there's enough guys out there that you've just got to do your best to find them.
"I think our players do a great job in the recruiting process of meeting guys when they come on a visit and telling us as coaches who's going to be a good fit for the program."
And while he relishes the success his players experience on the field, their accomplishments off of it, once they leave Johns Hopkins, are the best part of the job.
"I'm most proud when we have guys who get into med school and six-figure jobs on Wall Street," he said. "The football's awesome and obviously I love football or I wouldn't be doing this, but I really get the most joy seeing what our guys do when they graduate."
For more from Chimera, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics