Ruffin McNeill returns to Texas Tech this weekend.
Oklahoma’s interim defensive coordinator, following the Sooners’ 51-14 win over Kansas State, was asked about going back to Lubbock for perhaps the first time since his 2010 departure to become East Carolina’s head coach.
He wasn’t ready to share any thoughts on the game against Texas Tech – his immediate concern was watching a Saturday night movie with his daughter Olivia. Sunday would be the first day he seriously studies the Red Raiders.
But what about his time in Lubbock?
“I’ve got some good friends. My pastor is back there … I’m still very close to him,” McNeill said before adding, “But Kliff (Kingsbury) and the staff, they’ve done a great job. A lot of guys on that staff, I’ve coached. That’s one of the longest places, beside I’m praying that Norman is, that we’ve lived as a family. We’ll start preparing for Texas Tech tomorrow.”
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From Jalen Redmond to Sam Bradford
McNeill is probably the most entertaining interview that I’ve had in a few years.
He’s always dropping abbreviations. On Saturday, it was “FIDO” which means “forget it, drive on” following bad plays. He talked about watching movies with his daughter Olivia, who he nicknamed “mini-me.” When leaving the interview room on Saturday, he yelled “K-9” to Kenneth Murray (who wears No. 9) and gave him a big hug.
We asked him about playing true freshmen like DaShaun White and Jalen Redmond against Kansas State. He said he learned about the importance of having players ready to play after playing OU.
Then he referred to Texas Tech’s game at Oklahoma.
“Sam Bradford, Jermaine (Gresham) and all those guys come around here. That ‘Jump Around’ song, I still have nightmares about,” McNeill said with a smile. “That game taught me as a coach – and my dad taught me that when I coached high school basketball – you have to have backups. Not just backups, but guys who can play. When I coached high school basketball, at least 10 to 15.
“To get guys ready to go and be productive and the level of play still at a high level, you have to put them in situations. I’ve never been afraid – we’re not afraid – of playing the younger players. The only way they can learn is getting experience in front of a live audience or whatever the situation may be. That’s always a part of our game plan. It’s methodically done and it’s systematically done to make sure. But we’re always going to get those guys prepared and ready.”
One man’s Big 12 power poll
1. Oklahoma (up one spot)
2. West Virginia (up two spots)
3. Iowa State (unchanged)
4. Oklahoma State (up four spots)
5. Texas (down four spots)
6. Texas Tech (down one spot)
7. Kansas State (down one spot)
10. TCU (down three spots)
The Sooners hit the road to play at Texas Tech. Game time is 7 p.m. Saturday.