NORMAN — I got the question yesterday during my weekly segment with The Franchise Players: Will Alex Grinch be a one-and-done?
Has Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator done a remarkable enough job that someone will want him to be a head coach after — or, the way these things work, in less than — just one season in Norman?
There’s no way to know, of course, what a given athletic director might think about Grinch. Do they prefer to ride the trend of hiring offensive coordinators? Or is Grinch’s passion and attention to detail and unrelenting drive for perfection — not to mention his Lazarus resurrection of the OU defense — enough to start writing checks.
So Monday night after Oklahoma’s practice, I went to the source and asked Grinch his thoughts on being a head coach.
“You know that’s always something I’ve always thought about,” he said. “I think a lot of coaches have. I think at this stage (of my career), I’m thrilled to be at Oklahoma.
“To run a defense, to run a room, to have a title next to your name or the seat at the head of the table, that doesn’t really interest me. Anything you want to be, you want to be good at. So, I want to be as good a defensive coordinator I can possibly be.
And obviously, roles change over time — on the positive side of things and the negative side of things. So be the best at your role. And my current role, I’m very appreciative to have.”
I pointed out that Lincoln Riley had job opportunities early in his tenure as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. But a little counseling by Bob Stoops and a lot of patience by Riley put Riley at the head of the table at one of college football’s elite programs.
That’s the delicate balance that aspiring head coaches face: they can take the first job offer at a mid-major and maybe their careers never really take off. Or they can risk a more patient approach and simply do their best work and maybe something enormous opens up.
Riley could have been the head coach at Houston. Now he’s carving out an indelible legacy at Oklahoma.
“Well, some of those things have taken place in the past,” Grinch said. “You have to be balanced in some of those things. There’s just so much that goes into those decisions and those opportunities. What’s right for your family? What’s right for your career? All that stuff.
“You know, it’s something that is certainly nothing I give too much thought to as I go through a season.”
Riley said Monday the 39-year-old Grinch has what it takes to be a successful head coach.
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely,” Riley said. “He’s a really good leader, he’s very passionate about the game, I think he’s really continuing to grow as a coach and has done well at several different stops, and he’s done a good job communicating with the kids and with our defensive staff. So there’s no doubt in my mind if that’s what he ultimately wants to do, that he would be a very good head coach.”
Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.