WSU Grinch wants to steal football every play

PULLMAN-- New Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has a one-year deal, he said in a conference call with the media on Friday. "I'm signed on to coach this team through spring football and next fall," said Grinch. And over this coming year he wants his defense to try and steal the football on every play.

Grinch's salary was not disclosed. All of Washington State's other assistant coaches have one-year contracts, confirmed through WSU. Grinch, meanwhile, exuded the confidence of a seasoned DC on Friday, despite this being his first such post at the young age of 34.

He also displayed a relish for attacking the football and for the work that will be involved in turning around quickly a Cougar defense that ranked towards the bottom of the Pac-12 in several key statistical categories.

"The 'brainwashing' needs to begin in earnest, that the guys understand that their responsibility is to get the ball back to the offense," Grinch said.

As CF.C reported earlier, the Cougar D will remain in a base 3-4 structure but changes are to come - it won't be the same D as last year. Grinch didn't go into specifics on the changes but he did say the Cougar D will be intent on flying to the football, playing with aggression and looking to take away the football on every single snap.

Grinch said he believes each play is a chance for a change of possession, and although there is no magical formula for forcing lots of turnovers, there is a principle at play: Attacking the football is not a sometimes thing, and the defense cannot hope to get lucky.

Grinch made it a point to say he wasn't necessarily looking to leave Missouri, where he had already won two SEC East Division titles.

"An opportunity to come to a place like Washington State though, in the Pac-12, in a coordinator position, was something that I was extremely interested in. So over the last week, it kind of took shape and here we are," Grinch said.

Mike Leach's coaching reputation was a big draw, Grinch said. The process happened quickly, and it began with a conversation with WSU inside receivers coach Dave Yost, who was at Missouri with Grinch in 2012 and whom Grinch has known since the early 2000s. A casual conversation turned toward Grinch's interest in a coordinator position, and that there was an opening at Washington State.

That conversation took place about a week ago, Grinch said, and Leach contacted him soon afterward. Grinch arrived in Pullman on Sunday, and he was named the new DC on Wednesday.

The Cougars still have an opening for another defensive assistant coach position, one Grinch said Leach is looking to fill it with the best candidate available, regardless of position. Grinch said he would feel comfortable coaching the entire secondary after coaching the safeties at Missouri, if they decide to go that route.

However, Grinch said there is a possibility to have two coaches for the defensive line or in the secondary. The goal is to find the best teacher and recruiter for the defense available, Grinch said, for a defense that was so bereft of seniors this past year.

Grinch did say a young defense does offer positives, including a clean slate and there's not as many bad habits as there can be otherwise. He also said, regardless of age or experience, the Cougars need players who are dying to improve on a practice-by-practice basis, giving maximum effort on every single play.

"Every place I've been, the common ingredients have included tremendous effort. It has included a great teaching system starting with the coaches, and the product on the field has been a result, if nothing else, of at least those two things," Grinch said.

Grinch's recruiting area has not been defined yet, he said, but it's expected the Cougars will look to take advantage of his ties in Georgia and Texas.

  • Grinch played four years at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, and his team went 54-1 over that span. Mount Union won four consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference Championships.

  • Before Missouri, during his three years coaching the secondary at Wyoming, Grinch and the Cowboys reached two bowl games.

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