OU Football: Staff Assignments More Intriguing Than New Hires
NORMAN, Oklahoma - Several days after everyone knew who the new additions to the Oklahoma coaching staff were, Bob Stoops finally announced the hiring of Kerry Cooks as secondary coach and Dennis Simmons as outside receivers coach Monday afternoon.
But the two additions to the staff didn't raise any eyebrows; the new assignments for coaches already on the staff did.
Most notable was the switch of Cale Gundy from running backs coach to inside receivers coach. This was a surprising move because Gundy has been on Stoops' staff since he arrived in Norman in 1999 as running backs coach. Gundy has consistently churned out great running backs at OU, and Samaje Perine's emergence last season only bolstered his reputation as a recruiter and coach.
This season, Gundy has even more to work with since Joe Mixon will return from a suspension. Yet, it appears he won't be the one working with the embarrassment of riches the Sooners have at running back in 2015.
Why would Stoops move the most experienced coach on his staff when there is so much riding on the next few years? The answer can probably be found in the press conference where Stoops announced the firings of Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell.
When asked if Gundy would be considered for the open offensive coordinator position, Stoops said Gundy would one day be a candidate for a job like that, but not in his search. Whether that comment inspired Gundy or not, it looks like this reassignment is a move in that direction—a move that will allow Gundy to show he is capable of becoming more than just a position coach.
Switching to inside receivers is not a demotion; it's not even a lateral move. Gundy also added the title of assistant head coach, a title that probably came with a raise. It's important to keep your best recruiters around and Stoops added titles to Gundy and Jerry Montgomery's job descriptions. That's smart business.
But Gundy's reassignment wasn't the only one. Mike Stoops is moving to outside linebackers from safety and Tim Kish is moving to inside linebackers. Most thought Kish would be gone after the season, a scapegoat of sorts for the Sooners' poor play on defense. The Sooners' situation at linebacker isn't good, either; a result of poor recruiting which also falls on Kish's shoulders.
With Bobby Jack Wright's retirement, the OU defensive staff doesn't have anyone who would be in the press box during games. It's likely Mike Stoops would move up top, especially with the change in position emphasis and Montgomery's added title of co-defensive coordinator.
The new coaching hires could be great additions to the OU staff and there's not much reason to expect they won't be. But it was the reassignments announced on Monday that quickly the most interesting thing Bob Stoops has done to his coaching staff.