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Sports >  WSU football

Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch deflects questions regarding Ohio State rumors

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 26, 2017

Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch walks on the field after an NCAA college football game against Idaho in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch walks on the field after an NCAA college football game against Idaho in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Young Kwak / AP)

SAN DIEGO – “Ohio State” or “Buckeyes” never came out of Alex Grinch’s mouth during a six-minute group interview at Washington State’s bowl practice site Tuesday afternoon, and the defensive coordinator didn’t directly address questions posed to him regarding the reports about his future.

If reports from, 247Sports and others are correct, Thursday’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego will be Grinch’s final game with the Cougars, but WSU’s Big Ten opponent, Michigan State, could become a familiar one for Grinch if he does indeed leave to become the 10th assistant coach on Urban Meyer’s staff in Columbus.

But Grinch wasn’t keen on talking about Buckeyes – only Cougars and Spartans – when the coach met with a small group of reporters Tuesday at the Southwestern College facility WSU has called home since arriving in southern California on Saturday.

WSU’s DC hadn’t spoken with reporters since the week leading into the Nov. 25 Apple Cup despite multiple interview requests from The Spokesman-Review and other entities.

“Anything you devote your life to after a year’s time, you’d really like to focus on that time in particular and the next one being 48 hours from now,” Grinch said. “So no distractions, there’s too much going into this one to take away from it.”

Near the end of the interview, Grinch was asked directly if he’d be back in Pullman next season. He responded, “Appreciate it guys,” and walked toward the Cougars’ locker room.

Grinch is an Ohio native who played college football at NCAA Division III Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, winning 54 games and losing just one as a third team All-American safety for the Purple Raiders. His childhood home in Grove City is just 8 miles away from the campus at OSU.

After reports surfaced about OSU’s reported courtship of Grinch, a television reporter in Toledo, Ohio, reported that the Cougars’ DC had been spotted in Columbus while attending a Buckeyes practice.

Effective Jan. 9, 2018, the NCAA is permitting college football teams to add a 10th assistant coach to their staff. If Grinch fills that position for OSU, it likely wouldn’t become official until the New Year. A USA Today database showed that Grinch was earning $600,000 annually as WSU’s defensive coordinator, but his salary is expected to spike to $625,000 in 2018.

OSU’s defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano, earned $700,000 this season according to the database, and Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, at $650,000, was the only other assistant who made more than Grinch in 2017.

WSU recently renewed head coach Mike Leach’s contract and the school threw an additional $400,000 into the assistant coaches’ salary pool. It was reported the school would set aside a good portion of that for the man who’s transformed the Cougars’ once-porous defense.

The Cougars pitched two shutouts this season (vs. Montana State, vs. Colorado) allowed 24.4 points per game and finished 14th nationally in total defense after allowing just 313.6 yards per game. WSU finished in a tie for seventh in the FBS with 8.2 tackles for loss per game and a tie for 8th with 27 turnovers gained. Grinch has twice been a nominee for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.

On Thursday, the Cougars (9-3) have a chance to cap another successful season with a win over Mark Dantonio’s Spartans (9-3). That would be no small feat and it’s the only topic Grinch was interested in discussing following Tuesday’s workout.

“What you do is you focus on the guys you just spent three years with,” he said. “People aren’t in the indoor bubble at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in January. They’re not at midnight maneuvers, they’re not at spring football, they’re not hanging out with us in Lewiston, Idaho, for a fall camp, or the 12 weeks and the adversity that comes with that. … Again, from a distraction standpoint, all the other stuff takes place after your season.”

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