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Oklahoma Sooners Football - RJ’s Thoughts: Jerry Schmidt’s legacy at OU will be hard to follow

Jerry Schmidt leaves a void that’s tough to fill at Oklahoma, and Trae Young continues to shine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 TCU at Oklahoma Photo by Richard Rowe/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

University of Oklahoma director of sports enhancement Jerry Schmidt is no longer the owner of one of the longest titles I’ve ever seen. ESPN and WWLS’ Dusty Dvoracek reports Schmidt opted for a slightly shorter one in becoming Texas A&M’s strength and conditioning coach.

With this hire, Schmidt becomes the latest Oklahoma player or coach to end up at Texas A&M. The list includes former Ampersand U headman Kevin Sumlin, offensive lineman Christian Daimler, running backs Brandon Williams and Keith Ford, quarterback Trevor Knight and, only days ago, former defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

Nearing his crystal anniversary with the Sooners, though, it was gonna take a big bag of money to pull Schmidt into Texas hill country. The highest paid strength and conditioning coach in the country is Iowa coach Chris Doyle, according to USA Today. Doyle earns $675,000 annually. Schmidt ranks No. 15 among strength and conditioning coaches nationwide at $339,000 annually. If you really want to get upset about Schmidt leaving, Oklahoma State coach strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass is the fifth-highest strength coach in the country at $425,000.

With Ampersand U giving Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract to make him the highest paid college football coach in history, the Aggies are done thinking about how much things cost. They’re operating like a European football club who just found out Paul Pogba’s for sale. So I expect to find out Schmidt’s salary doubled once he gets to College Station.

Make no mistake, though, Schmidt will be missed at Oklahoma. He’s coached 18 first-round NFL Draft picks, six Heisman winners (Danny Wuerffel, Barry Sanders and Tim Brown before OU) and has been a part of three national championship teams (1996 Florida, 2000 Oklahoma). He’s also earned the love and respect of many he worked with. His will be a legacy that is hard to follow at Oklahoma.

Now with Schmidt out the door, there are just three holdovers from the original 1999 coaching staff Bob Stoops famously put together that would lay the foundation for winning Oklahoma football’s seventh national title. The three are: what-position-am-I-coaching-this-year Cale Gundy, assistant athletic director for football operations Matt McMillen and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. (If I had my way, only one of these two would stay.)

To replace Schmidt, it makes sense for Riley to promote from within his program, and the Sooners have Mahala Wiggins. He might be the man for the job.

Linebacker—excuse me, H-back—Ricky DeBerry credited Wiggins with helping him totally reshape his body. DeBerry previously made the move to inside linebacker, looking to become the heir to former Sooner Jordan Evans at the same spot. According to The Oklahoman, DeBerry sat down with Wiggins to discuss his goals for his body to help him play the position. He dropped 15 pounds to make himself leaner, faster and more mobile in a defense that demands linebackers do the job of linemen and defensive backs, too. (See: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.)

If he doesn’t promote Wiggins, Riley might have to poach. At this juncture in the coaching search process where new head coaches have started hiring new strength coaches, Riley would have to steal someone away in much the same way Ampersand U did Schmidt. In fact, two men I thought might function well at OU—Shawn Griswold and Kaz Kazadi—were both hired. I also understand Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Chuck Norris have not been hired on as strength and conditioning coaches—yet.

ONE PLAYER: Trae (Trey) Young Is Remarkable

In 15 games, super frosh Trae Young has led Oklahoma men’s basketball to three top 10 wins. One of the only two losses the Sooners have suffered this year have come against a West Virginia team that is becoming a sexy pick to not just win the Big 12 title but make a legitimate run at the Final Four.

He played one of his worst games against No. 9 Texas Tech and still managed 27 points and seven assists in a 75-65 win Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble. He continues to lead the country in scoring and assists in a league where half the teams are ranked in the Associated Press top 25.

These are all remarkable feats on a basketball court. Forget it, these are all just remarkable feats.


ONE FINAL THOUGHT: Root for Du’Vonta Lampkin

OU nose tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin became the third Sooner to declare he is entering the NFL Draft on this 2017 team following offensive tackle Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. But he also was the first Sooner to decide to leave early who was not roundly met with applause and well-wishers because some decried Lampkin’s decision.

But know Lampkin is special. Seth Oliveras did a great job showing that here. We also know he’s not polished. But he has what the NFL is looking for in a modern nose tackle in pro 3-4 scheme. We also know he stands to make the kind of money that still changes lives.

Just by making a roster, Lampkin could make the NFL minimum wage of $480,000 next season, according to SpoTrac, to do what he loves for a living. And he has earned the opportunity to enter the draft early. They ain’t exactly taking everyone who wants to play pro football. This is a privilege Lampkin earned. There’s no need to say he needs another year to get better. There’s no need to say he won’t succeed. There’s only hope and prayer that another young man gets to achieve his dream.