Reports that surely surprised no one who has been following the situation started to leak out of West Virginia Thursday night that Bill Bedenbaugh had accepted Oklahoma's offer to become their new offensive line coach. While there has yet to be anything official from Bob Stoops or the University of Oklahoma, when the athletic director of the school confirms that the guy is leaving then it's probably safe to assume an announcement could come from OU any day now.
In an effort to get to know who Oklahoma is bringing in to replace longtime assistant James Patton and often embattled Bruce Kittle we reached out to the fine folks over at SB Nation's West Virginia site, The Smoking Musket.
CCM: We'll get into specifics in a minute, but from a broad, open ended question type perspective, tell OU fans what kind of coach they're getting in Bill Bedenbaugh?
SM: Top notch recruiter who was able to get more out of a patchwork/under-recruited offensive line than the previous coaches. He tells it like it is, doesn't sugar coat much and has the type of personality that I think is needed to coach the offensive line.
CCM: It would seem, based on your post breaking the news for WVU fans, that even though he was only there for a couple seasons you consider the loss of Bedenbaugh to be a significant one. I'm choosing to take that as a sign as to the quality of coach you believe him to be. Is that a fair assessment?
SM: Absolutely. Fans had a tendency to point to the offensive line this past season as feast or famine with their production. Personally, when they underperformed, I felt it was because the starters didn't have much competition to push them to keep their "edge" for lack of a better term. I feel like we had a couple of guys who maybe got a little too comfortable in their status.
Now, it's the coach's job to make them work, but without quality depth and competition, that becomes a bigger challenge. I think our bigger concern is losing him as a recruiter and the lack of continuity in our offensive line coaches. It seems that we've gone through more of that position coach more than any other the last 7-8 years. Ever since (Rick) Trickett left for FSU, no player has gone through with only one position coach.
CCM: If there is any one asset in particular most OU fans are curious about, it would be what you can tell us about Bedenbaugh as a recruiter. Offensive line has been a position of consternation of late on the recruiting trail. In your opinion, did Oklahoma get a guy who could be the potential solution to the problem?
SM: The guy can recruit, no doubt. But with WVU's staff, coaches took care of regions primarily, not necessarily positions (of course, the position coach was ultimately involved). Bedenbaugh was named one of the top recruiters in the Big 12 this past cycle and was responsible for getting us our highest rated recruit. That said, one of our better offensive line recruits was markedly upset when he heard about the possibility of Bedenbaugh leaving. The guys that WVU recruited really wanted to play for him.
CCM: Based on what I've read, it sounds as if Bedenbaugh was able to make considerable improvement with WVU's offensive line play even in a short time in Morgantown. Is this accurate and if so, what in particular did you see from the line that should encourage something similar being possible for Oklahoma?
SM: He was at least able to re-instill some of the nastiness that you want in an offensive line that was lost with our previous o-line coach. Again, the lack of quality depth to create competition was a mitigating factor in what he was able to do. With this years incoming class, we think we've finally addressed this and now we won't know how good of a coach he really was because he's leaving before we could find out. That said, he was a definite upgrade over the last offensive line coach he replaced. With only two years, it's hard to qualify how much though.
CCM: Is there any one particular area as a coach you believe to be his greatest strength? How about possible weaknesses?
SM: Sorry to be repetitive, but his biggest strength was his recruiting in the little time we had to evaluate him. Our personnel deficiencies the last few years make it hard to really evaluate him fairly.
CCM: What can you tell us about him personality wise? Is he someone you would classify as a 'player's coach' or is he more of a taskmaster kind of guy who his players may not necessarily like but respect? Or somewhere in between those two somewhat extremes?
SM: I would say somewhere in between, based on what I've been able to witness. Never got the chance to meet him, but in interviews he seems like a no nonsense kind of coach who will tell it like it is. In the one practice that I was able to witness, he definitely has his way of doing things and expects them done that way, but at the same time, he wasn't a screamer or anything like that (perhaps because he knew there was an audience? hard to say). The players seemed to genuinely like him and respect him and his methods.
I wish I was a bit more insightful, but with only two years and not a great roster to work with, it's hard to see what he could do with a nice roster. In that sense, I would say he's good at getting decent results with less than ideal talent to work with. We would have liked to see what he could have done with our incoming talent.