By Michael Kinney
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has had to wear a lot of hats in the past week. Ever since he took over the head coaching duties of the Sooners after the unexpected departure of Lincoln Riley, he has not only had to be the coach, but also the lead recruiter and the phycologist for the fan base.
However, according to Stoops, he will be losing at least one of those jobs in the coming days. In a sit-down interview on a social media site, he proclaimed the new OU skipper will be in place by Dec. 6.
“There’s a little bit of uncertainty for everybody and understandably so. But, you know, we’ll find a great head coach and I’m sure it won’t take long. I would anticipate this weekend sometime,” Stoops said Thursday. “At the latest, maybe Monday. And things will settle in and people will realize we’re fine.”
This was the first time anyone associated with the Oklahoma leadership publicly put down a timeline on the coaching search. It also seems to dash the hopes of those who wanted Stoops to retain the job permanently.
As expected, Oklahoma has been pretty silent on who they are looking at and interviewing for the head coaching position. This, of course, has led to mass speculation among the Sooner nation on who it could be.
The names that continue to come up the most are Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell.
If Stoops’ timeline holds true, that could be an issue for Fickell, whose Bearcats have a chance to make the College Football Playoffs. It would be the first time a non-Power team will have made it, which is one of the reasons he is such a strong candidate.
Other candidates could also include Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, and Baylor head coach Dave Aranda. Like Fickell, they both have conference championship games Saturday and an opportunity to be one of the four teams that will advance to the playoffs.
It doesn’t feel like OU athletic Joe Castiglione and OU president Joe Harroz are going to be willing to wait until after the playoff runs are completed. With several current players already entering the transfer portal and even more recruits de-committing from Oklahoma, they feel the need to settle things down.
“We have to move quickly,” Harroz said Thursday at the Board of Regents meeting. “We know that. We understand it’s a new environment with the transfer portal. But we’re moving aggressively. We’ve got a seasoned and talented team. We’ve got to have a new head coach and this is going to be a road bump.”
Oklahoma will also want to start to get away from the messiness of Riley’s departure. Stoops was asked about recruiting allegations involving defensive backs coach Roy Manning, who was said to be recruiting for USC while still on the Oklahoma coaching staff.
“I’ve heard about it. There’s differing views on how that actually happened,” Stoops said. ‘Listen, through this week it’s going to be this way. Everything’s a little bit in flux. Recruiting, current players, staff not knowing whether they have a job or don’t have a job, where is that job or not having one. There’s no good way to go through it. You’ve just got to put your head down and plow through it and the dust will settle and it’ll all be fine.”
When the Sooners released the names on their updated 2021 coaching staff Manning and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh were listed. Both had been reported to be leaving to join Riley at USC.
Regardless of when it happens, Stoops said the situation may turn out to be a positive one for the OU program and that it may have been time for some new blood.
“Things can get stagnant sometimes,” said Stoops, who coached 18 years at OU. “I’m not saying they were. But that happens. It happens subtly sometimes in the program, you don’t even realize it. So a new outsider with a different vision, a new way of doing things can energize people. Who’s to say it couldn’t be better? I’m excited about maybe something new. Some new ideas.”
Michael Kinney Media