As we reported a few days ago, the defensive coordinator search is heating up in Norman, Oklahoma. After a season in which the Sooner defense landed outside of the top 100 nationally in total defense, a change was mandatory. Now, it is being reported by multiple media outlets that Alex Grinch is named new defensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
BREAKING: #OhioState’s Alex Grinch is expected to become the next defensive coordinator at #OU, per source. He was a semifinalist for the 2017 Broyles Award. Grinch worked wonders at WAZZU turning a defense ranked outside the top 100 into one ranked No. 34 by the time he left WSU
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 4, 2019
Grinch is in the mold of Lincoln Riley. First, he is a young and energetic prodigy that has seen success everywhere he has gone. Now, he made his mark initially with Washington State in 2015. Being a defensive coordinator under Mike Leach cannot be an easy task. However, Grinch made the transition seamlessly. Initially, he took over a unit that ranked 97th nationally in total defense and turned them into the 16th ranked defense in 2017. Equally important, his final defense in Pullman was ranked seventh nationally in defensive passing efficiency. Also, they forced 28 turnovers and only allowed 11 touchdown passes.
Important to note, Grinch is an accomplished secondary coach. Upon starting his coaching career in 2002 he was a graduate assistant at Missouri. Then, he moved on to New Hampshire where he was the defensive backs coach as well as their recruiting coordinator from 2007-2008. For the next six seasons, he was the defensive secondary coach for Wyoming and Missouri and produced top 30 defenses.
Now, Grinch will have the opportunity to evaluate current staff and build his defensive coaches for 2019 and beyond. Additionally, most would expect for Grinch to clean house and bring in mostly new coaches into the Sooner program. But, look for Ruffin McNeil to stay on staff in some capacity. However, even with the strong recruiting season for the 2019 staff, all existing coaches could very well be looking for new employment.
It’s been widely discussed that Oklahoma has potentially wasted the careers of two of the best quarterbacks in school history with the lack of production on the defensive side of the ball. This season alone, Oklahoma allowed 40 points or more on six occasions. Now, this season was the lone blemish on Grinch’s career as the Ohio State defense struggled. However, with Grinch’s track record at forcing turnovers, solid open-field tackling techniques, and fundamentally sounds play the Sooners have landed a gem. Can Grinch be the missing piece to get National Championship number eight back to Norman? One thing is for sure, the on-field performance has nowhere to go but up.