A day after Ohio State revealed the roles Alex Grinch and Taver Johnson will be taking this season, both assistant football coaches spoke to the media for the first time since being hired.
Grinch, who was Washington State’s defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2017, was announced as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Grinch said that transitioning from Washington State’s eccentric head coach, Mike Leach, to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is a challenge.
“Well, comparing the two, I’ll start there, there is no comparison,” Grinch said. “But I think to somehow suggest three years with coach Leach is now my expectation for a working environment would not necessarily be accurate.”
Johnson, who coached at Temple as the defensive coordinator last season, returned to Columbus for his second stint as an assistant coach for Ohio State. His first came as a defensive backs coach under Meyer in 2012 and former coach Jim Tressel from 2007 to 2011.
This time, Johnson will be taking over as Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator for Kerry Coombs, who departed for the Tennessee Titans defensive backs coaching position.
“Intimidating? No. Pressure? Always,” Johnson said. “I told the guys and I already know I have some big shoes to fill, and I’m accepting that challenge and I’m excited about it.”
Both Grinch and Johnson are Ohio natives. Grinch was born in Grove City and Johnson in Cincinnati, and while returning to their home state might have not been the main selling point, Grinch said it was a factor.
“Ohio is home,” Grinch said. “Is that the driving force in this opportunity? No, it’s the program, it’s the university. But obviously to suggest that’s not an added bonus, I’d be lying to you.”
Though spring practices will not start until Tuesday, both coaches are ready to bring their experience to their new positions with an already established group of players.
“I’m excited to get to practice because now we can get to doing a little more football,” Johnson said. “Everyone in the program is going to compete, everyone’s going to be a competitor. [That’s] what’s going to take some of the guys to the next level.”
Grinch was the 10th assistant coach for Ohio State after the NCAA passed a measure to allow college football teams to increase their coaching staffs by one additional assistant.
“My role here is to help in any way I can in terms of adding value to the defensive side of the ball,” Grinch said. “This place has done very, very well without me, and so anything I can do to add to that certainly is my motivation.”