I don't know what happened in 2018 to the Buckeye defense, but I always thought that Alex Grinch, as co-DC and S coach in his one year at Ohio State, got a bit of a raw deal and too much blame from many on this site for the defense's poor performance. Perhaps a case of too many cooks in the kitchen? Perhaps personality issues within the coaching staff with no clear lines of responsibility and a definite focal point for making decisions regarding the defense? Perhaps the expectation that Coach Schiano would take a HC position and Coach Grinch would soon become sole DC and the fact that this didn't happen led to, shall I say, difficulties. Don't know. It's all speculation. But something was off.
His record at Washington State, as sole DC, in immediately improving the Cougar defense, had been impressive before he was hired by Coach Meyer.
Lincoln Riley saw enough to hire Alex Grinch as sole DC at Oklahoma for the 2019 season, to fix a defense that was not very good. How has Grinch done?
From 2016 to 2018, the three years before Grinch arrived, the Sooners were 68th, 68th and 101st in Scoring Defense, respectively, and 82nd, 67th and 114th in Total Defense, respectively. 2018 in particular was not a good year for the Sooner defense.
In Grinch's first year at Oklahoma, 2019, the Sooners improved to 64th in Scoring Defense and 38th in Total Defense, from 101st and 114th.
In his second year, 2020, the Sooners improved even more to 28th in Scoring Defense and 29th in Total Defense.
Why do I post this? Because I'm a college football fan as well as an avid Buckeye fan, and respect other coaches and teams when they impress. And I cringe when I see what I perceive to be unfair criticism. I also know that this won't be a popular take with many.
But Alex Grinch has made major improvements to the Sooner's defense in just two years. His tenure, as sole DC, immediately before and after his one year in Columbus, has been impressive. I think he deserved better from Buckeye fans.
Whether the Sooners can continue to improve even more is an open question that only time will tell. But Coach Grinch has done in his first two years what Lincoln Riley hired him to do, improve the Sooner defense.