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OU football: Alex Grinch's name looms in Washington State head coach job search with departure of Mike Leach

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Alex Grinch

OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch during the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 28, 2019.

Back in October, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley addressed first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch's success, but he couldn't do it without talking about what's obvious about young, up-and-coming coaches: Grinch would be able to take the helm of a team one day.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if that is what he wants to do, then he'd be a very good head coach," Riley said.

Grinch would say a few hours later that, at that point in his career, he's just happy to be at Oklahoma. But with Mike Leach officially becoming Mississippi State's head coach on Thursday, Washington State — where Grinch was defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2017 — is up for grabs, and Grinch's name may come into consideration.

"(Being a head coach is) something I've always thought about, and I think a lot of coaches have," Grinch said on the subject in October. "I think at this stage, I'm just thrilled to be at Oklahoma, to run a defense, to run a room. To have a title next to your name or a seat at the head of the table doesn't really interest me."

Grinch, 40, already has a strong resume for being a one-and-done at Oklahoma. He led the Sooners' defense from No. 101 in total defense in the nation in 2018 to No. 38 at the end of the 2019 season — even reaching as high at No. 21 — in the span of a year. He's created a new culture on Riley's defensive side of the ball, implementing "Speed D," a type of aggressive attack that focuses on going for the ball and creating turnovers.

He had a similar amount of success at Washington State, where he led Leach's defense from a No. 97 total defense ranking all the way to No. 16 in three seasons.

Grinch is a part of blue blood coaching trees, coaching under Leach, former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and now Riley. If he were to part ways with the Sooners to go to Pullman, Washington, Riley has already made the case for his capability.

"He's a really good leader. He's very passionate about the game. I think he's continuing to grow as a coach and has done well at several different stops," Riley said back in October. "He does a good job communicating with the kids and with our defensive staff."

Grinch signed a contract with the Sooners that guaranteed him $1.4 million in his first season. If Grinch were to stay, he'd receive a $100,000 stay bonus on May 1. He is set to receive a 5 percent bonus for winning the Big 12 Championship, an 8 percent bonus for competing in the College Football Playoff and a 3 percent bonus for the Sooners winning at least seven games.

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Caleb McCourry is the assistant sports editor at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. He's covered football, basketball and volleyball. 

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