Oklahoma football is in the College Football Playoff once again, but aside from a solid effort against Texas in the Big 12 Championship, it definitely isn’t because of the defense.
The Sooners held the Longhorns to 27 points in the rematch of the two teams, after losing 48-45 in the regular season Red River Rivalry game.
It was the first time that the Sooners’ D allowed fewer than 40 points since October.
Oklahoma fired Mike Stoops, brother of former head coach Bob Stoops, as defensive coordinator at mid-season. Clearly he wasn’t the answer there, but that side of the ball has probably gotten worse if anything since his departure.
With Oklahoma football’s defense needing a major overhaul, Lincoln Riley is reportedly targeting big-time coaches from some of college football’s biggest programs.
Alabama co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Pete Goulding has been floated as a candidate for a while. Obviously, a move from Nick Saban’s staff to Lincoln Riley’s isn’t super obvious, but if OU opens the checkbook, you never know.
Ohio State’s Alex Grinch, the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator with Greg Schiano, is also a target, according to Football Scoop. Today’s surprising news that Urban Meyer will step down after the Rose Bowl, with offensive coordinator Ryan Day taking over as head coach, could have an impact here.
According to FootballScoop, however, neither hire seems super likely at this point:
Remaining in the good graces of Lord Saban is a smart career move for obvious reasons in both the long and short terms, and sources told FootballScoop that Saban plans to make moves necessary to keep Golding in Tuscaloosa.
Grinch and his wife are both Ohio natives, and the 37-year-old left his post as Washington State’s defensive coordinator with the understanding he’d been next in line to run Ohio State’s defense if and when Schiano left Columbus. Considering Schiano is in his third year at Ohio State, the feeling is that his time in scarlet and gray has run its course.
When Mike Leach was reportedly involved in the Tennessee coaching search, there were rumors that Grinch could get bumped up to head coach at Washington State. Instead, Tennessee hired Alabama’s Jeremy Pruitt, and Grinch made the move to the Buckeyes.
Like Pruitt, and Kirby Smart before him, defensive coordinator under Nick Saban has been a good path to a big head coaching job over the last few years, so that could be on mind for Golding as well.
Of course, there are numerous other promising defensive coaches in less prominent roles, but it is telling that Riley is targeting some of the biggest names at that level. The Sooners may have made a second-straight College Football Playoff run by outscoring every team to appear on the schedule, but Riley doesn’t want his program to remain that unbalanced.