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Alex Grinch expected to be among candidates for WSU job

Bryan Harsin and Joe Moorhead are names that could also pop up.

NCAA Football: Idaho at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Mike Leach for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, our minds immediately jump to candidates for the Washington State Cougars job.

While it’s still obviously incredibly early in the process, names already are surfacing. How credible those suggestions are is up for debate, but here’s a list of names you’ve either heard already or are going to hear in the coming days.

It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means.

Alex Grinch

NCAA Football: South Dakota at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Current job: Defensive Coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Grinch was the WSU Defensive Coordinator from 2015-2017 and helped mold that side of the ball into SpeedD. He was able to turn a defense that had been a liability into a turnover-forcing, playmaking unit that wreaked havoc upon Pac-12 offenses. After a year as an assistant at Ohio State, Grinch was hired as the DC at Oklahoma and again rapidly improved the defense. A known commodity to WSU, Grinch would immediately have credibility among the fan base, administration, and likely the players that have been around since 2017.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Highly unlikely. He left the DC position in Pullman for a non-coordinator assistant spot, ostensibly to be closer to family in the Midwest. It’s hard to see him reversing that mindset to come back to Wazzu. Success as the DC at a blue blood program like OU should lead to better opportunities down the road.

Bryan Harsin

NCAA Football: Boise State at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Current job: Head Coach of the Boise State Broncos
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Harsin has continued Chris Petersen’s success at the Group of 5 powerhouse, winning 10 or more games in five of his six seasons in Boise (64-17 overall), including last season’s 12-win campaign that had the Broncos contending for a New Year’s Six bowl game. He’s shown a knack for solid recruiting, picking up four-star recruits and assembling classes that are on par with WSU and other lower-tier Power 5 programs.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Seems pretty low, in the sense that he probably has his sights set higher than WSU ... eventually. He’s only 43 years old, and if he feels like the Broncos are set up to continue their success, he’ll probably eventually get a bigger offer. That said, WSU would probably offer roughly double his $1.75 million salary. He’s an offensive-minded coach, and WSU’s weapons on that side of the ball could be attractive.

Seth Littrell

NCAA Football: Army at North Texas Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Current job: Head Coach of North Texas Mean Green
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Considered a future Power 5 head coach by many, in 2016 Littrell was hired at North Texas after a 1-11 season. He implemented the Air Raid in Denton (along with another potential WSU hire, Graham Harrell) and immediately improved UNT, winning five games his first year, and nine in each of his second and third. The 2017 season included a division title. As an aside, he also played under Mike Leach when Leach was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Moderately likely. Littrell seems like a decent fit. He’ll continue the Air Raid philosophy, and he’s coming from a location that doesn’t have a huge amount of football success outside of his tenure. A drawback may be his lack of ties to the West Coast. Outside of a stint at North Carolina, his coaching career has been in the Midwest and Southwest. He’s going to be a Power 5 head coach at some point, most likely. We’ll see if this is the time.

Joe Moorhead

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Mississippi State vs Louisville Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Current job: Unemployed; formerly the head coach of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Before getting hired at MSU, Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State under James Franklin and considered one of the rising stars in coaching. What’s interesting is that most of his background was at smaller schools, and his only head coaching experience was four years at FCS Fordham, where he made the playoffs three times and advanced as far as the second round. He recruited great and he experienced a modicum of success in Starkville, going 8-5 in his first with with Dan Mullen’s players.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Of course, there’s the little matter of him going 6-7 in this, his second year, and getting fired. It’s roundly thought that the lack of discipline in the program was worrisome to MSU. It would be an interesting hire, but it doesn’t feel like a neat fit — and you wonder if Moorhead sees his path back to being a big-time head coach running through Pullman or through a season or two as an offensive coordinator at a high-profile program.

Nick Rolovich

NCAA Football: Hawaii at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Current job: Head Coach of the Hawaii Warriors
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Rolovich is former Hawaii QB who is an offensive-minded coach and has built a steadily improving program at a place where success is often fleeting. In his four years, the Rainbow Warriors have posted 7 wins, 3 wins, 8 wins and 10 wins. The Hawaii offense improved from 102nd to 30th by SP+ over the past three seasons. Additionally, Rolovich is a bit of a character, someone who would fit right in the long line of character coaches in Pullman.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Seems like WSU would shoot higher with this job, given the departure of a high-profile coach. His hiring would elicit yawns from the fans, but it also seems plausible for the fact that he fits the mold of a traditional WSU coach. One thing WSU would likely be wary of, however: The last coach to have success on the island (June Jones) wasn’t able to translate that success after moving to the mainland.

Graham Harrell

USC Spring Football Practice Begins Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images

Current job: Offensive Coordinator for USC Trojans
Why he’d be a candidate at WSU: Coached Outside Receivers at WSU in 2015 after serving as a Quality Control assistant in 2014. Played under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, was the OC for Seth Littrell at North Texas before his current gig at USC. Harrell is as well versed in the Air Raid as any coach in the country, and is seen as a potential head coach in the near future.
Degree of likelihood he gets hired: Moderately likely. Harrell ticks a lot of desirable boxes: Air Raid pedigree, young and up and coming coach, familiarity with the conference footprint, the West Coast recruiting scene, and the Palouse. Given the instability with the coaching situation in LA, Harrell might be ready to go somewhere a little less chaotic. The question is whether Pat Chun is ready to hand the keys over to a 34 year old, first time head coach.


Who would you choose today as WSU’s next coach?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Alex Grinch
    (1403 votes)
  • 9%
    Bryan Harsin
    (323 votes)
  • 7%
    Seth Littrell
    (252 votes)
  • 0%
    Joe Moorhead
    (33 votes)
  • 5%
    Nick Rolovich
    (175 votes)
  • 36%
    Graham Harrell
    (1230 votes)
3416 votes total Vote Now