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Dean: Thoughts On OU Hiring McNeill, OSU Extending Gundy

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It’s been an especially wild week or two in the sports world. I picked out two of the questions viewers had about the two latest coaching stories – fitting, with one OU and one OSU.  

WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH RILEY’S HIRING OF RUFFIN MCNEILL? 

No, the hiring or Ruffin is not surprising. In fact, I talked with Lincoln about it Sunday when he was up at the station for his appearance on the Blitz. His main point to me was that he'd hire “the right guy/coach,” not necessarily a specific position coach.

With Riley’s acknowledged commitment to “take recruiting to another level,” he clearly believes McNeill will help in recruiting to the position group in the most need – defensive line. It’s should also help in having Calvin Thibodeaux concentrate his coaching with the D-ends and McNeill work with the D-Tackles.

Simply put, Riley’s Sooners won’t win at the highest levels without signing and developing elite talent along the defensive front. Specifically, OU must make up ground with the upper crust perennial playoff teams in Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson. And new Texas coach, Tom Herman, has already shown what I was sure he’d deliver – getting commitments from 5-star recruits who are much more in the Bama/Buckeye mode than what the Sooners currently are lining up. 

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Wednesday that OU is getting a gem of person and coach.

"Ruffin McNeill is one of the best people, not only in the world of coaching, but also in the world, period," Mendenhall said. "I've really enjoyed his friendship, the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that we've had together. Ruff has amazing relationships with anyone he's met. He's got a great football mind.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF OSU FINALLY GETTING MIKE GUNDY'S SIGNATURE ON A CONTRACT?

Well, it’s a huge relief for a lot of Cowboy fans. There’s been enough discord between Mike and two of his “superiors” – AD Mike Holder and Boone Pickens – that Gundy could have conceivably bolted for another plum gig.

I didn’t believe this for the longest time, believing what Mike said from the start – “this is my NY Yankee job.” But in digging around in pursuit of the story about Holder’s future I learned a lot. So, first and foremost, getting him extended is a relief. Secondly, it’s great for all parties. Gundy has evolved into a high-quality head coach. A vicious competitor with strong football savvy and proven ability to hire mostly outstanding coaches, he’s the best thing that ever happened to OSU outside of Coach Iba, Eddie Sutton and Boone Pickens.

Two other quick, but important points:

First, the wise hiring of Deputy AD Chad Weiberg will prove to be awfully good and awfully important. I’d expect him to run the athletic department in the not-too-distant future. His intelligence and people skills were needed and surely played a role in getting the Gundy deal done.

Finally, getting the ‘good news Gundy signing’ on the front pages, on talk-radio and in sportscasts is very good timing – and I give them credit if the timing was sped up as I expect.

Think about it: Hated Enemy No. 1, 2, 3 & 4, OU, has not just dominated the headlines recently, they’ve owned the market. The last significant OSU story was the Cowboys' unsuccessful run in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Meantime, the Sooners won national championships in softball and golf. And OU was front-page, lead-the-newscast dominant with the retirement announcement and follow up of Bob Stoops and the introduction and follow up stories about the hiring of Riley. Coverage that is usually split down the middle, was pro-Sooners by a staggering proportion. The good news of the Gundy contract will bring focus back to Payne County.

So now Cowboy Nation is hoping Rickie Fowler wins this week’s US Open! (or Alex Noren). 

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