Sky's the limit at Grand Canyon under new coach Leonard Griffin

Leonard Griffin has big shoes to fill at Grand Canyon University, replacing legendary Schellas Hyndman, who retired after five decades in coaching, beginning at Eastern Illinois and SMU and then FC Dallas in MLS.

But the 38-year-old coach says he's ready to help build on Hyndman's success in making Grand Canyon a national program.

After a year out of coaching, Hyndman took over the men's soccer program in 2015, its third season as a Division I program, and led the Lopes to the NCAA Division Tournament in two of their first four years of eligibility.

Griffin is only 38 but has plenty of experience as a player and coach. He played on UCLA's 2002 national championship team and spent six years in MLS with the Chicago  Fire, Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy. He served the last two seasons as the head coach at San Francisco, which finished third in the WCC in the spring after being predicted to finish last.

After retiring as a player in 2008, Griffin entered college coaching, working as an assistant at Division II CSUSB as well as at Saint Mary's, California, UCLA and Portland before moving to USF.

"The ambition of the program matches my personal ambition as a coach," he told GCULopes.com writer Paul Coro after taking the job. "I'm still learning and growing, but I think the sky's the limit for the program to do things on a national scale. It's something I'm excited to come and do."

Grand Canyon plays in the WAC, which has 12 schools in men's soccer, many of them young Division I programs like Dixie State (based in Utah) and Cal Baptist that also came of the Division II PacWest in which Grand Canyon played before moving to Division I.

In the spring, Air Force won the ACC tournament to get the conference's automatic bid, but Grand Canyon snagged one of only 14 at-large bids awarded for the 36-team tournament.
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