Is Alex Grinch a competitive chef? Probably not, but his path to the Ohio State football program sure does share some similarities with culinary competitors.
There is a cooking competition show on the Food Network called “Chopped” that asks chefs to make the best dishes they can with odd components. In a given round, a chef may get tuna, kohlrabi, and Skittles, and they’ll have to turn it into something more than just appetizing.
The chef who can do the best with the least over three rounds wins the competition.
If Ohio State is a kitchen, then this is the first time Alex Grinch has ever worked with such produce.
That’s not to slight his previous stops at Missouri, Wyoming, or Washington State, but they don’t have the same access to goods that OSU does.
For instance, the three seasons before Grinch’s arrival, the Cougar defense gave up 33.7, 32.5, and 38.6 points per game. In his three seasons in Pullman, those averages dropped to 27.7, 26.4, and 25.8 points per game.
That may not sound too appealing to you, but it was an impressive accomplishment against a Power 5 schedule. Recruiting at Washington State isn’t easy, and 2- and 3-star prospects have to go a long way.
What Alex Grinch was able to do at Washington State is what landed him at Ohio State. He turned one of college football’s worst defenses into a 1-star Michelin restaurant, so to speak.
Now at Ohio State, Grinch has ingredients that he hasn’t had before. And he got here because he always relied on the one main ingredient that was available anywhere.
“I think in a program like that, you’re talking about No. 1 being effort,” he said. “Effort is the greatest equalizer in sport. No one has a monopoly on that.”
Grinch always had that stick-to-your-rib base to work with, and he got more out of it than most.
“Bigger, faster, stronger, and all those things on a week-to-week basis you may be plus, you may be minus, you may be even,” he said. “But if you get a group of guys with fanatical effort, and then you as a coach it’s your responsibility to put them in a position where they’re sound.”
Grinch has brought his specialty to Ohio State, and even though he may have more variety to choose from now, he is never going to get away from his staples.
Effort will always be there, and none of the ingredients will go to waste.
“Philosophically, you’re saying we want to be sound, then our package needs to be adaptable on a week-to-week basis. Making sure we’re not installing a new defense for every single type of offense that we face,” he said.
“And then it’s repeatable. So that the things you’re doing in spring football and the things you’re doing in fall camp are the same things that you’re doing over the course of the season so that your guys can play fast, and from an effort standpoint can reap some of the benefits of playing an aggressive manner of defense.”