In rather unexpected news this Monday, the Oregon State Beavers and head coach Gary Andersen “agreed to mutually part”, which gets even more surprising when you find out Andersen agreed to waive the remainder of his contract. Amazingly, considering the rumblings of Mike Riley’s possible firing before Nebraska hired him prior to the 2015 season, that’s two coaches OSU is now rid of that they don’t owe a penny to.
Andersen had won just seven games two and a half seasons into the job and, despite expectations that the team might be able to compete for a bowl game this year, had managed just one win, a nail bitter against a now 0-6 Portland State Vikings squad. For the rest of the 2017 season, cornerbacks coach Cory Hall will serve as the interim head coach.
That means, come November (or even before then), the Beavs will be looking for a new head coach, and they may not have to go too far to find him.
Alex Grinch’s incredible coaching job with the Washington State Cougars defense this season has surely not gone unnoticed. True freshman quarterback or not, the Oregon Ducks still have an incredibly talented stable of running backs and the only touchdown WSU allowed last Saturday was on a short field with broken coverage. They made Sam “IT FACTOR” Darnold look decidedly human, and surely Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes must have seen what WSU did to OSU’s offense.
At the very least, Grinch’s performance this year (and the previous two seasons for that matter) will catch the eyes of athletic directors and head coaches all over. That makes it very likely that he’ll be able to land at least a few interviews for more prestigious defensive coordinator jobs in the offseason.
But would Grinch make the jump to a head coaching job if Oregon State offered it?
A head coaching gig is difficult to pass up for anyone, surely. But I don’t think Grinch would be quick to jump at this one, in particular, even if OSU wanted him. For one, he’s only in his mid-30s, so a better job after a few more years of exclusively coaching defenses, at WSU or otherwise, is a distinct possibility.
Plus, the Beavs are ... well, they’re in really rough shape. As highlighted earlier, they were barely able to notch a win over a hapless FCS team and have looked terrible against every FBS team they’ve played this year. To call Oregon State a rebuilding project would be an understatement, considering they fired the guy they thought could fix things.
So Grinch would be walking into a very difficult situation for a first time head coach. Sure, the job is in a Power Five conference, but fail there and, fair or not, it’ll be hard to land another head coaching gig in the near future. This job screams for a guy like Beau Baldwin, someone with tons of head coaching experience, well-seasoned in the Pacific Northwest, and currently working for a university that might be the hardest one to be employed at in the Pac-12.
Regardless though, Grinch will most certainly have suitors this offseason. Even if Oregon State isn’t an attractive job to him, there will be others, and Bill Moos needs to be ready to break the piggy bank open to keep him in Pullman.