After weeks of rumors swirling around Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and his status with the team, we now know: he’s leaving Pullman. Bruce Feldman was the first to report today Grinch is taking a job as the co-defensive coordinator with the Ohio State Buckeyes where he’ll work alongside Greg Schiano to run the Bucks defense.
For Grinch, this move seems to be a no brainer. Besides an obvious step up in prestige coaching for a college football blue blood like Ohio State, Grinch had an extra draw to a job thanks, in part, to his family’s strong connections to the area and the school. The rumors surrounding Grinch’s expected departure dated back nearly three weeks and he was evasive, to say the least, in a media session leading up to the Holiday Bowl.
Grinch has certainly earned his new job with the Buckeyes, though. He took the Washington State defense from one of the worst in the country when he arrived in 2015 to arguably one of the top-three in the Pac-12 this season and amongst the best in the NCAA. He also did it in a way we haven’t really seen before, relying on speed, rather than just bulk up front, to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks and tackle running backs for a loss. It’s no surprise then that schools would be interested in Grinch after what he has done in a scant three seasons in Pullman.
WSU doesn’t come out of the transaction empty handed though. Grinch was signed through 2020 and owes the university $250,000 for leaving for another job before July of this year.
Grinch isn’t the only defensive coach calling for moving trucks in Pullman. Outside linebackers coach Roy Manning is reportedly heading to the Southland to be Chip Kelly’s special teams coordinator with the UCLA bruins, first reported again by Bruce Feldman. Besides his excellent work coaching outside linebackers, Manning recruited the heck out of the Los Angeles area and was well loved for his post-win/fall camp hype videos.
So, where does this leave WSU? For one, they’ve got, in theory, three defensive coaches and a tenth assistant to hire this offseason for a grand total of four coaches (even though there are only three open spots). I would suspect though that head coach Mike Leach will look for a defensive coordinator candidate who can also coach the outside linebackers or defensive backs (where Grinch also coached).
It still leaves WSU with a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. As for candidates for any of the positions, your guess is as good as anyone’s. Alex Grinch’s name didn’t emerge until very late in the process after Mike Breske’s firing and he was a complete unknown.
Probably not Robb Akey, though.