The Award-Winning Magazine Offering The Most Complete Coverage of Sooner Sports
  HOME FEATURE STORY SUBSCRIBE OU SPORTS IN THE NEWS COVER ARCHIVE WRITERS CONTACT US      ADVERTISE
More Recent Stories

Road Warrior

Top Gun

Catching On!

Versatile Playmaker

Hurts So Good

To The Point

To The Point

National Spotlight

Marquise Brown Q&A

Road Warrior

The Greatest Rivalry

Road Warrior

Hard Work

Road Warrior

To The Point

King's Corner

The Draft

To The Point

NFL Bound

Looking Back: Billy Vessels

Road Warrior

King's Corner

NFL Spotlight

Boomer Bio

Lincoln Riley Q&A

Keys To Success

End of an Era

Stepping Down

Dominating Force

2017 Recruiting

OU finished off a memorable 2016 season on high note

Road Warrior

Emmanuel Beal Q&A

Fast & Furious

Road Warrior

OU vs. Texas: By The Numbers

King's Corner

Steven Parker Q&A

Orlando Brown Q&A

Speed Burner

King's Corner

Next Step

Welcome Home

QB Questions?

Common Cause

Right on Target

Flying High at No. 1

Headed North

Playoff Bound

Dominique Alexander Q&A

California Connection

Red River Rejuvenation

To The Point

Ty Darlington Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Sooner Flashback: Jakie Sandefer

Next Generation

Hiring Time

Sooners hire new offensive coordinator

Samaje Perine Q&A

Aaron Ripkowski Q&A

Mike Stoops Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

All in the Family

Road Warrior

On Point

King's Corner

Sugar Bowl Review

Editorial

OU to meet Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Josh Heupel Q&A

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio

The Closer

Sooner Success

Mike Stoops Q&A

Bill Bedenbaugh Q&A

Spring Football Review

Spring Football Review

To The Point

Boomer Bio: Julian Wilson

Boomer Bio: Chuka Ndulue

Boomer Bio: Bronson Irwin

Jalen Saunders Q&A

Patience Rewarded

Boomer Bio: Sterling Shepard

Taylor-made for Oklahoma

Tony Jefferson Q&A

Attention Getter

A Change of Plans

A Change of Plans

Proud Heritage

Hot Commodity

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio; James Winchester

Boomer Bio: Aaron Ripkowski

Cornerstone

Playmaker

Playmaker

Strictly Striker

Javon Harris Q&A

Boomer Bio: Austin Haywood

Locked In & Loaded

Ben Habern Q&A

Landry Jones Q&A

The Classics

Top Ten Recruits

Bonus Prospects

Oklahoma Influences

Tight End Tough

Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

Jeremy Beal Q&A

Jamell Fleming Q&A

Boomer Bio: Trey Millard

Stacy McGee Q&A

Red River Tradition

Red River Tradition

James Patton Q&A

Boomer Bio: Eric Mensik

Quarterback Race

Quarterback Race

Boomer Bio: Kenny Stills

Boomer Bio: Marshall Musil

Getting His Kicks

Making The Right Moves In Recruiting

Bradford looks sharp in workout

No Doubt About It

Boomer Bio: Willie Martinez

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Boomer Bio: Ronnell Lewis

Norman Bound

Showdown In The Sun

Jay Norvell Q&A

Jay Norvell Q&A

Boomer Bio: Dejuan Miller

Adrian Taylor doing just fine

Joseph Ibiloye Q&A

The Real Deal

Road Warrior

Meet Dusty Dvoracek This Saturday!

Casey Walker Q&A

Best of The Red River Rivalry

Bradford To Start Against Baylor

Facebook & Football

Tackling Machine

Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

Josh Heupel Q&A

Boomer Bio: Stephen Good

Top Targets

Brent Venables Q&A

Boomer Bio: Cory Brandon

Tisdale and Griffin

Wayman Tisdale Dies

Sam Bradford Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Blake Griffin earns Naismith Award

Ryan Reynolds Q&A

The Wait Is Over

Outlook for 2009

Outlook for 2009

Staying Put

Bradford, Gresham, Williams Coming Back

Make Room For Sam

Lendy Holmes Q&A

Bradford Wins Heisman

Heisman Material

Boomer Bio: Frank Alexander

Sooners Headed To KC For Big 12 Title Game

Sudden Impact

Sudden Impact

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Gerald McCoy Q&A

Offensive linemen Roundtable

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Boomer Bio: Mossis Madu

Travis Lewis Q&A

Travis Lewis Q&A

Auston English Q&A

Jackie Shipp Q&A

Bob Stoops Q&A

Boomer Bio

They’ve Got It Covered

Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience

Big Dreams

Plenty Of Things To Chew on this Offseason

Marcus Walker Q&A

Looking Ahead

Greater Expectations

Manny Being Manny

The Big Easy

Super Sidekick

English Lesson

Revved Up & Remodeled

Firmly Committed

A Cut Above

The Definition of Rivalry

On The Rise

Irresistible Force

Bookends

Bradford Named Starting QB

Venables Verbatim

Sooner Spectator & Rivals.com Teaming Up

Final Chapter

Catching Up With Sumlin

Welcome Back Little Joe

Wilson’s Defensive Wisdom

Reggie Smith Q&A

Malcolm Over The Middle

Fantastic Five

Thompson & Alexander To Sign Autographs

WE'RE BACK!!!!

GET READY FOR THE RETURN OF SOONER SPECTATOR!

OU’s Greatest

Boomer Bio: Brody Eldridge

Boomer Bio: Fred Strong

Dual Threat: Stephen Garcia

Thirty Reasons Why OU will beat Texas

Double Duty

Kody Cooke: A Conversation

Boomer Bio: Lendy Holmes

Welcome Back

Quick Five With Nic Harris

Road Warrior

The Opposition

Defensive Backing

Recruiting: Crimson Bloodline

Wilson Weighs In

Replacing Runnels?

Defensive Outlook

Top Shelf: Austin Box

Rufus Revelations

Reaction to Capel Hiring

A.D. Unscripted

OU will miss Sampson

OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

Moore is Better

Sooners eye stretch run

Haskell remains a lost treasure

Boomer Bio: Patty Gasso

Sherri Coale Conversation

Taylor Made

Future Considerations

McCoy becomes a Sooner

Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

Remembering Billy Ball

Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Stoops is not leaving OU

Sooners down Ducks in Holiday Bowl

Biding His Time

Kelvin Sampson Q&A

Next Stop Division I

Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

Chris Messner Q&A

Bob Stoops' take on Bedlam Victory

Terrance Anderson's Journey

OU vs. Tech: The Answers

OU vs. Tech Matchups

Road Warrior

Stoops talks about OU's 36-30 win

OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

Recruiting: Derek Burton

Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

Carl Pendleton Q&A

Sooners topple Huskers in Lincoln

OU-Nebraska Matchups

Recruiting: Ugo Chinasa

Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

Recruiting: Adron Tennell

Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

Boomer Bio

Sooners give one away

Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

Not Pretty, But Sooners Win

Spectator Sneak Preview

Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

Texas Christian Sacks Sooners

Moses leads Sooner tight ends

Rufus Alexander Q&A

Thompson gets nod at QB

Birdine Lost For Season

Sampson to Visit Kuwait for Hoops with Troops

Walk-on making noise at WR

Travis Wilson Q&A

Clint Ingram Q&A

Sooners open fall practice

Brent Venables Q&A

Sooner single-game tickets go on sale Monday

Questions about Sooners' aura not surprising

Joseph talks about summer workouts

OU at Big 12 Media Days

Kim Named to U.S. Walker Cup Team

Sooners name Golloway

Stephenson decides to stay at Wichita State

Stephenson takes OU head baseball job

Soon to be Sooners

New Sooner Nic Harris excited about new digs

2005 Season Preview Issue Available Now!!

Letter from the Editor

Q and A

Ever Elusive

Sooner Selections

Ole Miss powers past Sooners

OU's Weekly Sports Report

OU inks JUCO point guard

OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

White gets a chance with Kansas City

Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain




On Sale at Newsstands on Jan. 31, 2019!
To The Point
Patience, time needed as new DC Alex Grinch works to fix OU's defensive culture

Oklahoma's new defensive coordinator has the right name. Alex Grinch. Yes. That'll do just fine, or at least better than Alex Cinch. Moving the ball on the Sooners has been easy enough the past eight or nine years.

He has the right presentation. Grinch is slightly older than his 35-year-old head coach. Young and energetic worked when OU promoted Lincoln Riley to replace Bob Stoops. Young and energetic worked when OU hired Bob and his younger brother, Mike, once upon a time.

Grinch wore a visor while coordinating Mike Leach's defense at Washington State. That bodes well around here. He wears a tough guy's stubble. He talks with a tough guy’s rasp.

About that three-year stint at Washington State… Grinch did well enough in turning Cougar defensive fortunes that Ohio State's Urban Meyer hired him away last year. Unless it has to do with Zach Smith, Meyer typically knows what he’s doing.

So this all bodes pretty well, Grinch riding into Norman, patching OU's defensive holes and getting the Sooners to play like it's 2009. That was the last year the defense felt like a fortress, the last time the defense led OU into games ahead of the offense.

Right about here, though, I'd like to pause and ask that you all exercise a little caution. Not because I don't believe in Grinch. I don't know enough about him to believe one way or the other. None of us do, even if his track record is encouraging.
This is more about the mess that was left for him to clean up.

We aren't talking about changing a cornerback rotation or a blitz scheme. This isn't about whether a coordinator prefers press coverage over zone, or how often his pass-rushing linemen stunt.

Grinch must change a culture.

He'll get to personnel as he starts to hire assistants, and then when those assistants start recruiting their own players.

He'll get to alignment and design based on both his personal preferences and the strength of his players.

Right now, it must start with culture.

This is a program built on the wings of wishbone runners, sure, but also the backs of bone-jarring tacklers. The Selmons. The Burrises. Tubbs, Cumby, Calmus and The Boz. Kinlaw and Casillas. Zac Henderson and Roy Williams.

Last season, the Sooners couldn't stop Kansas. They struggled to stop everyone, really, and the frustration seeped out. It was everywhere, whether in the form of anguish on the faces of players and coaches being asked what was wrong or in the lungs of fans who got sick of Pooka Williams making would-be tacklers look silly and voiced their displeasure.

During a season that saw OU win a fourth consecutive Big 12 Conference championship and a second straight Heisman Trophy before punching a ticket to the College Football Playoff, fans at Owen Field booed the defense.

That isn't just personnel and coaching breaking down. That's a culture.

It takes time to build something that broad back up. It's going to take Grinch time.

He comes across as a sharp coach. By the accounts of those who have played for him or been around him, he is a magnetic coach. The Sooners should want to play for him.

Of course, they wanted to play for Ruffin McNeill, too. Riley replaced Mike Stoops with McNeill, reputed to be the players' biggest advocate on staff. The thought was they'd run through the proverbial brick wall to change the defense's ways.

It sort of happened in McNeill's first two games against feeble Kansas State and feebler TCU. Then reality poured down and the defensive numbers in OU's last six games were somehow worse than the ones in OU's first eight.

The Sooners wanted to be better. They had some four- and five-star players in the lineup to try to make it better. They just couldn't.

That's an issue tied to unrelenting Big 12 offenses, yes, but first the Sooners must look inward. They must figure out whether it’s innovation they lack or the right body types or the right practice habits or the number of film room hours or something as basic as the right morale.

Grinch must figure it out. He'll have help from Riley and whatever staff he gathers. But it’s ultimately his responsibility. That puts a lot of pressure on a coordinator.

At a place like OU with its history of championship defense? With its current position as curve-setting offense? Double down on that pressure.

The one thing keeping Riley, the play-calling Mensa member, from a national breakthrough is defense.

Everybody knows it. Everybody knows Riley hired Grinch to fix it. And he just might do it.

“This is a unique opportunity at one of the premier institutions under elite leadership,” Grinch said the day he was officially announced. “Oklahoma is in the top one percent. There's no faking it in this business. You're either it or you're not. Oklahoma is one of those programs."

He also might need your patience as he goes about making repairs. Given the task at hand, that isn’t too much to ask.

(Editor's Note: This story appears in Sooner Spectator's 2019 Bowl Review issue. To subscribe or read more, call 405-364-4515)