Mike Stoops was met by more than 30 reporters immediately following Oklahoma’s 48-45 loss to Texas on Saturday.
It would be the last time he would represent OU.
Stoops will no longer serve as the Sooners’ defensive coordinator, a source confirmed to the Tulsa World on Sunday night. It is unknown if it was a resignation or a firing.
There was no official statement from the school on Sunday. The news was first reported by James Hale, a sports-talk host at Norman radio station KREF.
Stoops spent 12 years as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator. He was hired by Bob Stoops in 1999 and worked five years until taking over as Arizona’s head coach in 2004. After being terminated after an eight-year run guiding the Pac-12 program, he returned to Norman in 2012 in his old role on his older brother’s staff.
Stoops recently signed a contract extension through the 2019 season over the summer. His contract was $950,000 with a $50,000 stay bonus if he was still on the staff on May 1, 2019.
Mike Stoops admitted Saturday’s game was frustrating. Texas had season highs for points (48), total yards (501), passing yards (324) and first downs (27) against his defense.
“It’s all frustrating. It hurts. But it is what it is. You’ve gotta keep moving forward and we’ll figure it out, figure out what to do,” Stoops said following the loss. “I’m extremely disappointed in my inability to get this team to play at a higher level. It takes everybody pulling the same way. Certainly I take a lot of that responsibility, that’s for sure.”
He was asked on Saturday if he wondered if the defense could be turned around.
“I don’t know, you just… Yeah. I’m not worried about that. These kids are talented young players that work extremely hard,” Stoops said. “I think a lot of them are coming into their own. But the maturity level, there’s a lot of things physically still we need to do to get ourselves in a better situation across the board.”
So who will take over the Sooners defense for the rest of 2018?
Ruffin McNeill, OU’s assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach, is the most experienced on the current staff. A former head coach at East Carolina (2010-15), he was defensive coordinator at Texas Tech (2007-09), Fresno State (1999), 1997-98 (UNLV) and Appalachian State (1993-96).
Another strong candidate is Bob Diaco, who was hired during the off-season as a defensive specialist. A defensive specialist cannot coach players.
Diaco, a former UConn head coach between 2014-16, was Nebraska’s defensive coordinator in 2017 and had his strongest teams at Notre Dame. He was the Irish’s DC between 2010-13.
The Stoops news comes one day after Texas’ offense had success against OU, scoring on seven of its first nine offensive possessions.
Those numbers added to the Sooners’ freefall in the national statistics this week.
Out of 129 teams, OU ranks No. 96 in total defense (421.2 yards per game), No. 106 in passing defense (264.3 yards), No. 97 in third-down conversion defense (42.4 percent), No. 95 in fourth-down conversion defense (63.2 percent) and 124 at red-zone defense (tied for last with 0 stops).