Ding, dong the Grinch is gone.
USC fans around Los Angeles were singing with joy on Sunday after Lincoln Riley finally fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. The final straw was a 52-42 loss to Washington featuring 572 yards of offense and 316 yards rushing.
Of course, it wasn't just one loss. The Trojans defense had fallen to catastrophic lows in 2023, well on track to set program records for points and yards allowed in a season.
Trojan fans had been calling for Grinch to be fired for the better part of a year. Many felt he should not have been retained after USC's Cotton Bowl loss to Tulane. Even more thought he should have been nixed after USC lost to Utah, then beat Cal while giving up 49 points. But Riley stuck with his DC going into a pivotal matchup with No 5 Washington, and he got burned.
In a statement, USC announced that defensive line coach Shaun Nua and inside linebackers coach Brian Odom will take over as interim co-defensive coordinators. Defensive analyst and former USC All-American Taylor Mays is stepping into an on-field assistant coaching role handling USC's safeties.
USC fans and media react to Lincoln Riley firing Alex Grinch
The reaction to the news was filled with relief and not a small amount of frustration that it took this long.
Riley hired Grinch at Oklahoma in 2019 and his defenses were a point of contention even there as the Sooners' most high-profile losses coincided with miserable defensive performances. However, he still fielded defenses that gave up 27.3, 21.7 and 25.8 points per game in 2019, 2020 and 2021. So the head coach brought the DC with him to Los Angeles when he took the USC job.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, things got far, far worse in cardinal and gold. Grinch was lucky to keep his job after his defense averaged 29.2 points per game allowed in 2022, giving up 40+ points in each of USC's three losses.
The end result is a midseason firing and USC's College Football Playoff hopes dashed.