Wisconsin expected to hire former USC DC Alex Grinch as safeties coach: Sources

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Wisconsin is expected to hire former USC defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch as its next safeties coach, two program sources confirmed to The Athletic. He replaces Colin Hitschler, who left last week to become an assistant coach at Alabama. The Wisconsin State Journal first reported the news.

Grinch, 43, spent the past two seasons at USC before he was fired by head coach Lincoln Riley with two regular-season games remaining. He held the same roles under Riley at Oklahoma from 2019-21. Grinch also was the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State in 2018, the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Washington State (2015-17) and the safeties coach at Missouri (2012-14). His other coaching stints included Wyoming and New Hampshire.

Grinch, a native of Grove City, Ohio, played safety at Division III powerhouse Mount Union College in Ohio before pursuing a coaching career as a graduate assistant at Missouri.

What does this mean for Wisconsin?

Grinch’s name likely will be a polarizing one to Wisconsin fans familiar with how his tenure at USC ended. The Trojans were surrendering an average of 34.5 points per game and ranked 107th in pass defense and 120th in run defense at the time of his firing. Over his final two games, USC allowed 101 total points to Cal and Washington.

However, Grinch isn’t coming to Wisconsin to run its defense, as Mike Tressel is back for his second year as defensive coordinator. Grinch’s focus will be on a safety group that returns plenty of experience and is expected to include Hunter Wohler, Kamo’i Latu, Preston Zachman and Austin Brown, among others. And despite what happened at USC, Grinch has been a highly successful coach. He is a four-time nominee and two-time semifinalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Luke Fickell’s coaching staff should be complete now with the addition of Grinch. Fickell hired Kenny Guiton from Arkansas as wide receivers coach to replace Mike Brown, who left for Notre Dame. Fickell also hired Vanderbilt’s AJ Blazek as offensive line coach after Jack Bicknell Jr. was reassigned to a different role within the program.

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(Photo: Jordon Kelly / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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