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Oklahoma Sooners Football - Lincoln Riley Hires Ruffin McNeill as Assistant Head Coach/DT Coach

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Lincoln Riley is filling Oklahoma’s coaching vacancy with one of his mentors.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Southern Methodist Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Update (2:31 PM) - OU has made the official announcement, stating that Ruffin McNeill will be the assistant head coach/defensive tackles coach. McNeill had the following to say:

"I had a great experience working for (head coach) Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia and really enjoyed that," said McNeill on Wednesday. "Now having a chance to work for Lincoln, it's a proud moment for me because I'm very proud of Lincoln. It's an exciting moment as well. I've been in coaching a long time and I'm very honored to be joining the Oklahoma family. There's obviously outstanding tradition here and I got to know Coach (Barry) Switzer very, very well. I'm extremely excited."

"I've been at every level and have done it a lot of different ways," he began. "I've been fortunate to work with great people. I've had the big-picture view of a head coach, I've been a defensive coordinator and I've been a special teams coordinator, so I think I have some things I bring to the table. I absolutely love coaching the players. I love that part. I'm excited to do that here. Can't wait to get on the field, get in the meeting rooms, talk strategy, talk life. That's what I've always been known for; being a hard worker and a team guy. I believe it's team and family first, last and always. Lincoln and his wife, Caitlin, are family to me. I've known him since he was 18 years old when he was a freshman at Texas Tech.

"I believe in working players harder than they've worked before, but also loving them more than they've ever been loved. That's my base. And I always am clear with my expectations. 'Here's what I expect and why, and here's what we're achieving.' It's not just the 'what,' but it's also the 'why' and the 'how.' I treat the players like they're my sons. Not just my particular group, but the entire team. I'm looking forward to building those relationships here at OU."

"Mike and I have known each other for quite a while, and in this business you kind of keep up with everyone," said McNeill. "We kept up with each other, even during his Arizona days, just seeing how each other were doing and so forth, and Bob as well. And you obviously know coaches through competition. Mike and I had a great visit yesterday and had dinner last night. We talked coaching philosophy, we talked schemes and we talked life. It went very well. I'm really looking forward to working with Mike."


After being promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners last week, Lincoln Riley was in need of an assistant to fill out the staff. Well, it looks like former East Carolina head coach Riffin McNeill is going to be the guy.

As many of you know, Riley was McNeill’s offensive coordinator at ECU and also worked with him at Texas Tech, so there’s more than a little bit of history between the two. With McNeill no longer serving as the head coach at ECU (he’s most recently been the defensive line/assistant head coach coach at Virginia), so this was a fairly logical choice. When Oklahoma is able to add an additional assistant in January, that will be the more appropriate time to address the offensive side of the ball.

McNeill served as the head coach at east Carolina from 2010-15, where he accumulated a record of 43-34 over six seasons. Before that, he served as defensive coordinator at Texas Tech during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Texas Tech’s defenses weren’t dominant during those years, but they were much more respectable than they are now, and his defensive line units were relatively solid (Remember Noble native Colby Whitlock? He was a monster). Additionally, McNeill served as Tech’s interim head coach for the 2010 Alamo Bowl following Mike Leach’s firing.

I for one am pretty pumped about this hire. This is someone who knows Riley well and can help him with his transition to the head coaching ranks. It’s also good for Calvin Thibodeaux, who will now have some help coaching the defensive line.