Monday morning started off with Oklahoma officially announcing the dismissal of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, news that started to break Sunday evening. Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has promoted assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill to the role of defensive coordinator for the remainder of the 2018 season. Defensive specialist Bob Diaco will take on the role of outside linebackers coach.
“I have great respect for Mike,” Riley said in a released statement. “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.”
McNeill has previous defensive coordinator experience with UNLV, Fresno State, Texas Tech. Diaco is also a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and Notre Dame under Brian Kelly as well as Nebraska.
“Ruffin has an impressive résumé,” Riley said. “That’s why I wanted him on our staff in the first place. I have confidence in his knowledge and leadership. Bob has a lot of experience in very good programs and also has a list of accomplishments that will help him step in and make an immediate impact. We are fortunate to have these men in our program. They’ll be ready to get to work in new roles right away.”
Stoops was fired after this weekend’s loss to Texas, a 48-45 setback in the Red River Rivalry that saw Oklahoma’s defense once again continue to struggle to get a hold of the game. Although Oklahoma has an offense that is more than capable of leading the Sooners to a Big 12 championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma’s biggest shortcomings in recent years seem to come back to defensive issues, including last season’s regular-season loss to Iowa State and the Rose Bowl playoff loss to Georgia.
Stoops, of course, was one of many assistant coaches who remained in the Oklahoma coaching staff during a head coaching transition last year when Mike’s brother Bob Stoops suddenly retired and handed the program over to Riley. Once Bob Stoops retired, it was fair to wonder just how long Riley would stand by the defensive coordinator that has commonly been a target for criticism when things go wrong for the Sooners.