Now that the head coaching carousel has slowed considerably — last we checked, Mike Leach is still the coach of the Washington State Cougars — it’s time for the assistants to take their turns.
After a season in which the WSU defense surged ahead of the offense in terms of on-field performance, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is starting to be mentioned in connection with some higher profile jobs.
CougCenter sources (yes, sometimes we have those) said that Grinch interviewed this week with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas A&M Aggies and Florida Gators. Radio/TV personality Brock Huard had this to say:
Brock Huard says on @710ESPNSeattle WSU DC Alex Grinch is weighing multiple job offers, including Texas A&M and Arkansas. Says he’ll be surprised if he stays in Pullman.— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynMcIntyr) December 13, 2017
Then ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg said that maybe we should be looking a little further north for a possible landing spot.
Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is very much in demand and could be on the move after the Cougars' bowl game. While he's been mentioned for SEC openings, Grinch is an Ohio native who may end up back in the Midwest. It's unlikely WSU, which I've heard is reducing its football spending, could match some of the offers Grinch will receive.
Now, FootballScoop eventually said, “Sources tell FootballScoop Texas A&M has their eyes on another person and that Grinch was never offered Texas A&M defensive coordinator.” It’s possible there’s some parsing of words taking place here; perhaps Grinch has been offered a position in College Station, but not defensive coordinator.
Whether such an arrangement would be attractive to Grinch — get a raise, but take a step back in prestige — is obviously unknown. It would seem counterproductive if his end goal is to become a head coach, but there’s an argument to be made that expanding his network at a more high profile program might land him a bigger fish eventually.
Update, 12/15: There might be some legs to this, after all. You might not be aware that the NCAA approved football coaching staffs growing to 10; that could provide an opportunity for a school to come after Grinch with a hefty paycheck, as FootballScoop intimated:
Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is a candidate to join Ohio State’s staff, sources told FootballScoop on Friday.
Sources indicated Grinch would not replace an active Ohio State assistant; rather, he would serve as the Buckeyes’ 10th assistant, which will become effective for all FBS programs on Jan. 9. If the move gets completed, it’s a window into how the elite FBS programs are looking to fill their newly-created staff positions. Grinch earned $600,000 at Washington State, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.
For what its worth, WSU president Kirk Schulz weighed in on Rittenberg’s speculation:
We are committed to putting the financial resources in place to ensure continued success for @wsucougfb - including enhancing our salary pool for our coaching staff. The only way we can continue our positive trend is for Cougs to stop worrying & contribute to @CougarAthFund https://t.co/y8oKSUNBcv— Kirk H Schulz (@WSU_Cougar_Pres) December 14, 2017
Whatever happens, I certainly would hope no move is made until after Dec. 28, which would allow WSU to get the majority of this class signed next week and have Grinch coach in the Holiday Bowl.
We’ll update this story as it evolves.