Lincoln Riley’s Job 1 in the offseason, aside from finalizing what is expected to be a third-straight top-10 recruiting class, is to bring in the best candidate available to fill the open defensive coordinator position.
Coming off giving up 62 points to Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, Florida head coach Steve Spurrier went on an exaustive search and found the exact right man to coach his defense the following season.
The result was a massive turnaround on that side of the ball under a young assistant named Bob Stoops and an eventual national championship the following season.
Stoops himself would of course go onto a legendary coaching career as we all know (the man does have a statue outside of the stadium for a reason), but when his offense showed significant struggles in an embarrassing loss to Clemson he took a page out of his old mentor’s playbook and found a turnkey offensive mind that allowed him to focus on the other side of the ball.
Now his protege Lincoln Riley is charged with the same task. The Sooners have been historically good on offense. Riley is two-for-two on Heisman winners as the head coach at OU. It is hard to doubt that he could be two-for-two in National Championships as well with the right guy coaching the other side of the ball.
The Sooners have lost four times under Riley. In those four losses Oklahoma put up 31, 48, 45 and 34 points, respectively. That means the Sooners averaged a staggering 39.5 points per game in losses over the past two years. It’s hard not to imagine that the right defensive mind couldn’t have found a way to turn at least three of those losses into wins.
Not only that, but an attacking defense could make the Sooners almost unstoppable, burying opponents under an avalanche of points before they can get their bearings.
Riley has gone on record as not in a rush to hire the next Oklahoma defensive coordinator, but he clearly already has the blueprint, not to mention the resources at a blueblood program like OU to make it happen.
Now we just all have to wait and see what he does.