EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated at 9:59 p.m. PT, from "2 defensive coordinators USC Football can dump Alex Grinch for" to the new title and edited below article. This change has been made after the writer learned more about other off-field concerns and issues of the second coordinator mentioned in the original version of the article.
USC Football Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch needs to go. He did a bad job with this group, and it really doesn't matter that he only has been here one year, because of how low the bar was for him this season. Grinch was taking over a defense that was perhaps the worst one in USC history in 2021.
He barely improved the D; with the squad only giving up 2.6 less points per game this season than they did last year before Grinch arrived. That would be 29.2 points per game allowed this season by the defense. The defense also surrendered 424 total yards per game on the season. As bad as they were last year, they gave up less at 410.1 yards per game.
The defense really did not improve, and again, the bar was as low as it gets. And yes--Grinch did not inherit much talent on defense when he came to USC, but USC's personnel also clearly does not have much talent at defensive coordinator with Grinch at the helm. SC needs to make a move immediately, and there is a great option right off the bat that SC needs to pick up the phone and call.
That option is very clearly Jim Leonhard. Leonhard was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin from 2017 to 2022, and was their interim head coach this season after they fired Paul Chryst after the fifth game of the season. He went 5-3 as head coach for the Badgers when he took over, which is obviously significantly better than what the record was before he took over.
Their defense under Leonhard was particularly stout. They were 17th in the country with just 20.2 points per game allowed at Wisconsin this year. Imagine what he can do with the type of recruiting base he'd have at SC. He doesn't have that at Wisconsin. Especially considering that 2022 was most certainly no fluke for Leonhard.
Last year, the Badgers were fourth in the nation in only surrendering 16.2 points per game. In 2020, they were tied for ninth in America with just 17.4 points per game allowed, and in 2019 they were 10th in the country in only allowing 16.9 points per game. And first years do not scare Leonhard at all. In his first year as the DC at Wisconsin (2017), Leonhard's group only gave up 13.9 points per contest. That was third in the FBS.
If the Trojans fire Alex Grinch, USC Football needs to throw as much money at Jim Leonhard as they can.
It needs to be made clear that Jim Leonhard is THE best option for USC Football to dump Alex Grinch for. It's not even a question, and SC should throw as much money at him as they can if they have the chance at signing him.
He would be more than a significant improvement over Grinch, and not to mention, his defenses at Wisconsin are everything USC's isn't. Wisconsin's defenses were known for being tough, physical, and having a mental edge. They were known for being disciplined, violent, and certainly not undersized.
If USC wants to commit to winning, they can't let an egregious performance by a coordinator slide. Grinch has been a defensive coordinator in college football since 2015. He has yet to truly earn these blueblood jobs he keeps getting. It's time to move on, and accept that this aspect of the program isn't working out.