Shortly after Lincoln Riley dropped an atomic bomb on Sooner Nation on Sunday after the fallout began to drop and it was just as bad as what fans had feared. From committed recruits to assistant coaches the list of names among the exodus from Norman continued to grow. Riley became the first Oklahoma coach to leave for another job since Chuck Fairbanks went to the New England Patriots in 1973, and the first OU coach to leave for a college job since Jim Tatum left for Maryland after one season in 1946. Undoubtedly this program is in uncarted waters and those waters are really choppy right now.
Bob Stoops is going to do his best to guide this program through the bowl season, and then we’ll see after that, but it looks like he’s going to have a skeleton crew to work with. Riley served as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and co-coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh is widely reported to be heading to Southern California as well. Not only that but receivers coach, and passing game coordinator, Dennis Simmons is also reportedly out the door. That’s a heavy dose of offensive coaches that won’t be on the sideline for OU’s bowl game. Longtime Sooner assistant Cale Gundy will most likely be appointed as the new offensive coordinator by Bob Stoops. It looks like he’ll have running backs coach DeMarco Murray and tight ends/h-backs coach Joe Jon Finley by his side. All three are former OU players. All three are expected to remain loyal to the program. All three should be heavily commended for guiding this team, regardless of any bowl outcome.
Things are a little better on the defensive side of the ball. Alex Grinch is going to follow Riley to California and I would expect that means a battlefield promotion for inside linebackers coach Brian Odom. Like Finley, Gundy, and Murray on the offensive side of the ball, Odom is a Sooner alum and should be expected to hang around. Defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux is in the same mold as well. Odom was a member of the 2000 national championship team and Thibodeaux was a member of three Big 12 championship teams from 2002-2006. Those two guys are going to be “ride or die” with the Sooners.
Roy Manning is a wild card here. He’s a West Coast guy and has been rumored to be going with Riley but so far there’s very little smoke compared to the other assistants that are most certainly out the door. He could stay, he could go. What’s pretty much guaranteed is that he’ll have an impact on whichever program he ends up with.
I honestly have no idea about Jamar Cain but if he stays he definitely deserves a promotion.
So, to update the count, that’s one head coach and three top assistant coaches for sure out the door for the Sooners. Then two coaches that are in limbo right now as Oklahoma waits to hear its bowl fate. Not necessarily an ideal situation.
Then there’s the recruiting side of this. Oklahoma was building what possibly could have been the best 2023 recruiting class in the nation and the 2022 class, that gets to sign in just a couple of weeks, was sitting pretty as well. That’s all on the verge of crumbling right now. The Sooners suffered four decommitments on Sunday and more are expected to come. Gone from the 2022 recruiting class is 4-star linebacker Kobie Mckenzie and decommitted from the 2023 class are 5-star quarterback Malachi Nelson, 5-star receiver Brandon Inniss, and 4-star running back Treyaun Webb.
That’s a lot of change for a program in just one day with undoubtedly more to come. I’m not saying that it was Lincoln Riley’s intention to cripple the Oklahoma football program but, for at least right now, that’s exactly what he’s done.
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