Brett Deering/Getty Images
“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.”
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.
Kevin Sherrington @KSherringtonDMN
First question for Lincoln Riley at the half: Will Mike Stoops still be employed in the 3Q?
Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless
Mike Stoops’ defense had Texas 3rd-and-20 and couldn’t force a punt. Again: I don’t know how he has kept his job for so long. Great guy. Consistently lousy defensive coordinator whose defenses never even tackle consistently. Just a nightmare.
Mark May @mark_may
If Oklahoma wants to be a championship contender CUT the Stoops cord and get a real defensive coordinator!
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 Solid Verbal @SolidVerbal
Oklahoma Defense Pts/Drive
(vs FBS, minus garbage time)
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.