NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 28: Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners watches warm ups before the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 49-27. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Oklahoma Sooners officially fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops on Monday morning, the team announced.

“I have great respect for Mike,” said head coach Lincoln Riley. “He’s a quality football coach, great man and a close friend. It became time for a change in our program and that happens sometimes in football, but we cannot lose sight of the accomplishments Mike had at Oklahoma. He was responsible for a lot of success and deserves the gratitude of everyone associated with Sooner football, not only for his role in the winning, but for coaching with integrity.”

James Hale of Sports Talk 1400 KREF in Norman, Oklahoma, first reported Stoops’ ouster and The Oklahoman‘s Ryan Aber later confirmed with a source Sunday.

OU Daily‘s George Stoia reported one of Ruffin McNeill or Bob Diaco will replace Stoops as the defensive coordinator. McNeill is the assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach, while Diaco works as a defensive analyst.

The move comes after the Sooners gave up 48 points and 501 yards in a loss Saturday to the Texas Longhorns.

Plenty were quick to heap blame on Stoops for Oklahoma’s dreadful defensive showing against Texas.

Stoops discussed the performance with reporters after the game.

I’m extremely disappointed in my inability to get this team to play at a higher level,” he said, per the Tulsa World‘s Guerin Emig. “It takes everybody pulling the same way, and certainly I take a lot of that responsibility.”

The defeat was a microcosm of Oklahoma’s biggest issue in recent years.

The Sooners are giving up 421 yards per game, which ranks 96th in FBS. Over the previous four seasons, they finished 57th, 89th, 31st and 54th in total defense.

Oklahoma reached the College Football Playoff in 2015 and 2017. In two semifinal games, the Sooners surrendered 1,057 yards and 91 points, highlighting how they lacked the defense to make the leap to win a national title.

Parting ways with Stoops doesn’t guarantee a change of course in the 2018 campaign, but it’s better than maintaining the status quo.

A one-loss Oklahoma can still reach the playoff if it wins the Big 12 title. Considering the Sooners still have to play Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, a Stoops-led defense likely would’ve unraveled at least once more before the end of the year, thus eliminating the team’s national championship hopes for good.

McNeill, Diaco or another coach can be a good stopgap until Oklahoma has the offseason to evaluate full-time coordinator candidates.

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