USC Sacks Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch With 2 Games Left


Coach Lincoln Riley of the Trojans announced on Sunday that defensive coordinator Alex Grinch had been fired after USC gave up 101 points in total over the previous two games.

Riley and Grinch, who served as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021 before moving to USC, oversaw a team that gave up 34.5 points per game on average this season and finished in the bottom 30 of the nation in almost every statistical category, including 107th against the pass and 120th in rushing defense.

Riley announced the appointment of linebackers coach Brian Odom and D-line coach Shaun Nua as co-defensive coordinators for the remainder of the season through a USC representative.

Grinch had been the target of a lot of criticism for his and the team’s performance even going back to the previous season, when USC finished the year allowing 47 points to Utah in the Pac-12 title game loss and 46 points to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl loss.

Riley and USC especially encouraged patience during the offseason and offered a positive assessment of the progress the defense would make with more experience and talent. However, the unit’s performance did not improve even after USC used the transfer portal to add defensive players like former Georgia linebacker Bear Alexander and former Oklahoma State linebacker Mason Cobb. In terms of defensive SP+, USC was ranked 87th at the end of the previous season. It is ranked 87th for this season.

Up until now, Riley had supported Grinch and his endeavors. Riley could only fall back on not wanting to address “big-picture questions” regarding Grinch and the defense following Saturday night’s 52-42 home loss to Washington (USC’s third loss in four games). The defense allowed 572 yards of offense.

After Saturday’s game, an insider with knowledge of the program told ESPN that Grinch was “for all intents and purposes” done at USC. While some had assumed Riley would hold off on firing Grinch until after the season, the coach acted in less than a day.

Now that USC has lost twice in the conference this year, it needs to win big and get a lot of support in order to compete for the Pac-12 championship. The Ducks, who, like Washington, have one of the best offenses in the country and a lot on the line, will host the Trojans in Oregon the following week.

Riley and the rest of his staff will have their work cut out for them as USC prepares to enter the Big Ten in the upcoming season, hoping to avoid wasting a top-five offense in the nation as they have the previous two seasons, even though Grinch was undoubtedly the face of the team’s defensive problems.