Grinch goes from defensive coordinator to co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, but sources told The Seattle Times it is more than a career move for the up-and-coming coaching mind.
In three years, Washington State’s Alex Grinch has gone from being a relative unknown to one of the most respected up-and-coming young defensive coordinators in college football.
Per a report from Bruce Feldman Thursday afternoon, Grinch will now take his talents to his home state of Ohio, where the Grove City, Ohio native will join Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State as the Buckeyes’ 10th assistant coach.
As of Jan. 9, a NCAA new rule goes into effect allowing each football program to add a 10th assistant coach.
Meyer has yet to announce Grinch’s new title, but Feldman reported that Grinch will be Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator alongside the Buckeyes’ current defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano — who got the Tennessee head coaching job in November, only to have the Vols renege on the offer.
Sources told The Seattle Times that being closer to family factored heavily into Grinch’s decision to move closer to home because a family member has been ill, and Grinch’s hometown of Grove City is about a 15-minute drive from Columbus. Grinch played his college football at Division III powerhouse Mount Union, in Alliance, Ohio.
Feldman reported Thursday that Grinch turned down, more lucrative other offers from other schools so that he could work with Meyer at Ohio State.
Sources said Grinch informed the WSU players of his impending move shortly after rumors surfaced mid-December linking him to the Ohio State job, and was upfront with his defense about his reasons for leaving.
Grinch, 37, made $600,000 at WSU in 2017, and was due for a $25,000 raise in 2018. He would, however, likely have gotten a significant raise and contract extension if he’d opted to remain at WSU. He was viewed, per sources, as a possible successor to Mike Leach during the shaky period in November when Leach reportedly interviewed for the Tennessee job.
Ohio State paid Schiano $700,000 in 2017, per the USA Today assistant coaches’ salary database.
Grinch was popular among his players, and, in his three seasons at WSU, resurrected the Cougars’ defense, transforming a unit that ranked 97th nationally in total defense in 2014 – the last year of the Mike Breske era – to 16th in 2017.
Under Grinch, the Cougars’ defense acquired an identity – The Speed D – and, at his insistence, steadily improved at forcing turnovers. WSU forced eight turnovers in Breske’s final season in 2014, but finished with 28 in 2017.
WSU’s 103 tackles for loss in 2017 were the second-most in school history, and defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa finished his junior season as a consensus All-American, with a single season record 22.25 tackles for loss.
With Grinch’s departure, WSU now has two staff defensive coaching positions to fill — rush linebackers coach Roy Manning has left WSU to join Chip Kelly’s staff at UCLA.
WSU Athletics declined to comment on the impending move.