USC has fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch after less than two years with the program. The Trojans fell 52-42 to Washington on Saturday with Grinch’s defense allowing 44.2 points per game over the last six contests.
Defensive line coach Shaun Nua and inside linebackers coach Brian Odom will serve as interim defensive coordinators for the rest of the season. Defensive analyst Taylor Mays, a former USC All-American defensive back, has been promoted to an on-field role as safeties coach to replace Grinch.
Grinch joined coach Lincoln Riley in moving from Oklahoma to USC after the 2021 season despite major criticism of his Sooners defenses. The unit has been scrutinized even further in Los Angeles last season after USC gave up a combined 136 points in three losses during an 11-3 campaign that ended with a loss in the Cotton Bowl.
However, the unit tanked during a disappointing 2023 campaign. Despite adding nine transfers on defense, the defense has regressed, falling 14 spots to No. 119 in total defense and nearly 30 spots to No. 121 in scoring defense. His defense has allowed 265 points over the last six games and held only one team (Utah) to fewer than 40 points. The Trojans went 3-3 over the stretch resulting in first three-loss regular season of Riley’s career. Life does not get easier for the Trojans next week when they visit Oregon.
Grinch comes from the highly-regarded Mount Union and Gary Pinkel coaching trees, and he got his first chance to call plays under Mike Leach at Washington State where he took the Cougars from 84th to 16th in total defense over just two years to become one of the hottest young coordinator candidates in the nation. Grinch led Oklahoma to a top-30 defense in 2020, but the Sooners fell to 76th in 2021…