USC Fires Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch

By Josh Poloha on November 5, 2023 at 4:25 pm
Alex Grinch
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hours after dropping out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in the Lincoln Riley era and less than a day after suffering a 52-42 loss at home to Washington, USC has fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, Riley announced on Sunday.

Ten games into a season in which USC was the No. 6-ranked team entering the year, the favorite to win the Pac-12 title and a popular pick to make the College Football Playoff, allowing 52 points and 572 yards (316 on the ground) against the Huskies was the final straw for Grinch's tenure with the Trojans.

Although the Trojans' offense ranks second nationally in scoring (45.5 points per game), eighth in total yards per game (487) and fourth in yards per play (7.55), it's been the polar opposite for USC's defense. The Trojans rank 124th nationally in scoring defense (34.5 points) and 109th in yards per play allowed (6.11).

Over the last six games, USC has allowed 41, 41, 48, 34, 49 and 52 points, a span in which the Trojans have gone 3-3 for Riley's first three-loss regular season since becoming a head coach at Oklahoma in 2017. In USC's six losses – all of which were to ranked opponents – since Riley became the head coach prior to last season, the Trojans have allowed an average of 45 points.

After USC gave up 136 points in its three losses to Utah (twice) and Tulane during the 2022 season, Grinch's eventual dismissal seemed inevitable. Yet the Trojans kept him around for 10 games this year before finally making a change.

Grinch had been Riley's defensive coordinator for the last four-plus seasons, as Riley brought Grinch with him from Oklahoma to Southern California after the 2021 season. Grinch was the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State for one season in 2018 before becoming Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator in 2019.

Defensive line coach Shaun Nua and inside linebackers coach/associate head coach for defense Brian Odom will serve as interim co-defensive coordinators following Grinch’s firing, while former USC defensive back and 2010 second-round NFL draft pick Taylor Mays has been promoted from defensive analyst to safeties coach.

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