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College Sports: Oklahoma DC search: Breaking down potential replacements for Mike Stoops in 2019


Apr 14, 2012; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops yells to his unit during first half of the Oklahoma spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE ORG XMIT: USPW-81324 10112012xSPORTS 10122012xBRIEFING


Apr 14, 2012; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops yells to his unit during first half of the Oklahoma spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE ORG XMIT: USPW-81324 10112012xSPORTS 10122012xBRIEFING

Oklahoma has reportedly parted ways with defensive coordinator Mike Stoops following the Sooners’ 48-45 loss to Texas on Saturday. 

In the interim, it seems Stoops will be replaced by Ruffin McNeill or Bob Diaco. McNeill was Lincoln Riley’s first coaching hire after Bob Stoops stepped down last summer. Riley worked alongside McNeill at Texas Tech and East Carolina. Diaco was hired as a defensive analyst this offseason and has previous DC experience at Nebraska, Notre Dame and UConn.

But looking to the future, who could replace Stoops? 

There will be no shortage of ideas. Riley and athletic director Joe Castiglione will likely conduct a national search looking for a defensive coordinator to take the reigns. 

I put out a question to OU fans on Sunday night: Who do you want to see replace Stoops? 

Here’s a breakdown of what was floated by the OU faithful, sorted by likelihood. 

The pipe dream

Bud Foster, defensive coordinator, Va Tech

Longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator would be the most sought after coach in the game if he made it known he would leave Blacksburg. Foster has been with the Hokies in some capacity since 1987 and is perhaps the most steady defensive mind in the country. 

But there’s also no reason to believe a blank check from Oklahoma could convince him to leave. He’s stayed through multiple coaching changes and has surely turned down lucrative opportunities before. The one connection OU does have? Shane Beamer, son of legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, is on staff. Still, don’t hold your breath. 

Still shooting too high

Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator, Georgia

Mel Tucker is a highly-respected defensive mind who gave OU’s offense fits at times during last season’s Rose Bowl. He’s also probably out of OU’s league at this point. Moving from the DC job at Georgia to Oklahoma would be a lateral move at best, even if it included a healthy raise. 

Beyond that, Tucker would seem to be in line for head coaching opportunities this offseason. He was reportedly a finalist for the Tennessee job before Jeremy Pruitt got the gig. 

Jimmy Lake, defensive coordinator, Washington

Jimmy Lake is another potentially attractive candidate, but there’s no reason to think he’d leave the Huskies for the same position in Norman. He signed a contract that pays him over $1 million annually this past offseason — a touch more than Stoops was making at Oklahoma.

Legitimate contenders

Alex Grinch, Co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State

Alex Grinch is a highly-respected up-and-coming defensive coach. He’s currently the Robin to Greg Schiano’s Batman on the Ohio State defensive coaching staff. Before that, he had a very successful three-year stint as Mike Leach’s defensive coordinator at Washington State before agreeing to join Urban Meyer’s staff. 

Grinch, 37, would be a forward-thinking hire for Riley. He’s had success defending all sorts of offenses, including the spread, in both Pullman and Columbus. He’s reportedly making $800,000 this year, so the Sooners could offer a sizable raise and increase in responsibility to get him away from Ohio State. 

Tim DeRuyter, defensive coordinator, Cal

Former Texas A&M DC Tim DeRuyter has carved out a nice career for himself at Cal. After a couple successful years leading the Aggies’ defense, DeRuyter left to take the head job at Fresno State, where he was decidedly less successful. 

But he has rebounded in his second year at Cal and has led the Bears to the No. 6 defense in the country so far, per S&P+. At 55, he might be a little older than Riley is looking for. But he has recruiting ties to Texas and could bring an immediate improvement in 2019. 

Pete Golding, co-defensive coordinator, Alabama

Pete Golding is a bit of a wildcard, but he checks all the boxes for what OU could be looking for. He’s young, has shown strong success and has ties to Texas. It doesn’t hurt that he’s had the last year to learn from Nick Saban, either. 

Before coming to Tuscaloosa, Golding was the defensive coordinator at UTSA and led the Roadrunners to the No. 7 defense in the country last season by yards per game. 

Like Grinch, the appeal in coming to Norman would be the opportunity to build his own defense from the ground up. He’s reportedly making $650,000 this year, so the Sooners could also offer a significant raise if they decide Golding is their guy.

The next tier

Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator, UCF

Randy Shannon moved to Central Florida after the Jim McElwain era at Florida went up in flames. Shannon was the Gators’ DC for three years before ultimately serving as their interim head coach once McElwain was let go.

McElwain’s Gators were flawed, but the defense wasn’t the issue. Things fell apart in 2017, but Shannon led Florida to top seven S&P+ defenses in both 2016 and 2015. At UCF, that defense currently sits 32nd by the same metric. He’s most remembered for a rough tenure as Miami’s head coach, but Shannon has rebounded nicely.

In terms of recruiting ties to the area, Shannon did spend one season as TCU’s linebackers coach in 2012. He also has extensive experience in the state of Florida, which OU has made more of a priority under Riley.

Bryan Bowen, defensive coordinator, App State

Bryan Bowen is an up-and-coming defensive name, but he might not be ready for a job like Oklahoma. This is his first season as App State’s DC after serving the previous six seasons as the school’s cornerbacks coach. A strong reason to consider him anyways: His defenses have consistently been among the best in the country at getting interceptions. 

Dark horses

Morgan Scalley, defensive coordinator, Utah

Morgan Scalley is an interesting option, but he might not be a perfect fit at Oklahoma. Scalley has spent his entire career at Utah and he also played for the Utes. He doesn’t have the recruiting ties to the area and a marginal raise probably wouldn’t lure him away from the place he’s called home since 2001.

Marcus Freeman, defensive coordinator, Cincinnati

If OU is focused on hiring a young DC, Marcus Freeman fits that bill. He’s 32 years old and not that far removed from a successful playing career at Ohio State and in the NFL. With youth comes inexperience. This season with the Bearcats is just his second as a defensive coordinator. He also doesn’t have ties to the area or anyone on staff. 

Mike Houston, head coach, James Madison

Mike Houston, suggested by RedDirtSport above, is perhaps the most intriguing name on this list. He’s already a three-time head coach, so it stands to reason that he wouldn’t be interested in being an assistant again. 

But OU could potentially offer him a raise to work for Riley in Norman, and he’d be on a much higher national stage than his current position. As a college head coach, he’s 75-23 at Lenoir-Rhyne, The Citadel and James Madison. It still seems like a long shot that he would agree to be an assistant again for the first time since 2010.

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