What we know about OU's coaching search, players leaving
A look at what's confirmed and what's speculation early into Oklahoma's search for a new head football coach
We’re going on Day 3 of the Oklahoma coaching search, but it feels like Day 300.
Credit to social media for making this very new reality feel like an exhausting process for the Sooners, who are trying to replace Lincoln Riley.
So, how bad is the damage so far?
Here are the confirmed players in the NCAA transfer portal:
QB Spencer Rattler
WR Jadon Haselwood
TE Austin Stogner
WR Theo Wease
Here are the players that have withdrawn their verbal commitments to Oklahoma:
2022 4-star OL Demetrius Hunter
2022 4-star LB Kobie McKinzie
2022 4-star DL Derrick Moore
2023 5-star WR Brandon Innis
2023 5-star ATH Makai Lemon
2023 5-star QB Malachi Nelson
2023 4-star RB Treyaun Webb
And finally, the coaches that have been confirmed to follow Riley to Southern Cal:
Alex Grinch, defensive coordinator
Dennis Simmons, receivers coach
Bennie Wylie, strength and conditioning coach
But to be expected.
OU is entering uncharted territory as a football program in the modern era. It was bound to eventually happen, but 15 days before the start of the early signing period is less than ideal and will undoubtedly speed up this process.
OK, let’s go over some of the moves and address some speculation that’s been rampant over the last 48 hours.
It’s hard to tell whether or not Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is truly OU’s first choice or if it’s the alumni’s first choice. Most of the buzz around Venables being the hire stemmed from tweets from former OU players, but getting a deal finalized by Monday afternoon (which was floated by a few alums) was just never realistic. Now, could a deal be in place later this week? Absolutely. But there is nothing 100% concrete about the Venables rumors quite yet. The timing makes sense, however, with Clemson waiting for its bowl destination and sitting out conference championship week. If this was a regular year for the Tigers, it might be a bit harder for OU to get ahold of Venables.
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell have both been floated as candidates — so, nothing too serious. Fickell seemed like a long shot with the Bearcats throwing a lot of resources at the program as it prepares to enter the Big 12. Freeman, on the other hand, is 35 years old but doesn’t have any head coaching experience. All this to say, Brian Kelly unexpectedly leaving Notre Dame for the LSU head coaching job would seem to lower the chances of OU getting Fickell, who’s a midwest guy, and Freeman, who could easily take over for Kelly or follow him to LSU.
Is OU cornerbacks coach Roy Manning doubling up for Oklahoma and Southern Cal? It’s apparent he’s out on the road recruiting for the Sooners, seeing Broken Arrow’s Robert Jennings-Spears and Arlington Seguin’s Xavion Brice already this week. But it appears he’s also talking with five-star DB Domani Jackson on behalf of Southern Cal, according to a report from 247Sports.
Is Bill Bedenbaugh staying at Oklahoma? The Sooners offensive line coach was reportedly heading to USC with Riley, but there’s been no official word on that front. If it’s any bit positive, four-star tackles Jacob Sexton and Jake Taylor have publicly stated they aren’t backing off their OU commitments just yet.
We will do our best to update this post as more information becomes available.
A reminder: Players can enter their names into the portal but they don’t necessarily have to leave the program.
Nelson has already flipped to Southern Cal.
Riley is also taking the dude that makes the cringey karaoke videos in his car with 20 year olds the Friday before each game as his director of football operations.