Not to be confused with Wiley Post, Wylie Coyote or former Oklahoma running back Joe Wylie, the Sooners announced that a man who looks cut from marble and who can make Michelangelo’s David blush is the new head of strength and conditioning and Oklahoma Sooners football coach Lincoln Riley’s newest hire. And Bennie Wylie won’t run-on. He’ll just get it done.
Riley’s pick to succeed the institution that is Jerry Schmidt at OU is man he spent years working with at Texas Tech. Wylie also did stints at Texas, Tennessee and with the Dallas Cowboys before joining the staff in Norman. But he received national acclaim for his appearance on an NBC reality television show called Strong.
And boy is Wylie ever.
He’s certainly strong of body, but it is his skill as a motivator that sets him apart from others, according to a former Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback he worked with while in Lubbock.
”You really couldn’t say anything about the workout,” Steven Sheffield told ESPN in 2012. “How do you complain when you know that he is going to do it three times? When you do get tired and you do get worn out, you just keep going. You’re not going to quit on your team because everything is competition. You learn to compete and fight when you are tired.”
That’s the job of a strength coach: to teach men and women there’s more in them than what they thought, believe or even imagined. A strength coach’s calling is to raise the level of accountability, discipline and drive of not just the players but the staff. This is why Wylie has called himself “every position coach’s No. 1 assistant.” He knows the needs of individuals are different, but they need to be met under a unifying culture of collectively helping the team win.
He knows every big play, explosive play, has come into fruition because of work put in by the entire program months before. His job means being up at 4 in the morning to beat his players to the weight room and staying well after practice to help redshirt athletes and recovering injured players get the added work and rehab they need to help the team win.
In this way, Wylie is a great hire. In this way, Wylie’s hiring has revealed more about Riley’s process for picking his assistants too. Sooner fans will note both of the hires Riley has made so far have been men he worked with at Tech and for then-Tech coach Mike Leach. And, on its face, there is nothing wrong with that.
In fact in the last years of his career, former OU coach Bob Stoops hired three men who worked with or played for Leach at Tech in offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, receivers coach Dennis Simmons and Riley himself. But if Riley’s next hire has ties to Riley himself and his time at Tech it will begin to feel like he’s trying to rebuild a staff he was fond of at Oklahoma. Which is fine. Until it’s not.
No one wonders when was the last time Tech won a national title. Because the Red Raiders haven’t won a national title.
No one wonders how many conference titles (10) Tech as won. Because the last time the Red Raiders won a conference title (1994) Baker Mayfield hadn’t even been conceived.
Point is, at Oklahoma, Riley’s going to have to show these hires get him closer to winning a national championship and aren’t just him rebuilding toward Tech’s 2008 season that was great for Tech because it shared the Big 12 South title with Oklahoma. But the Red Raiders finished the season in the Cotton Bowl, and Oklahoma finished the season in the national championship.Riley is already beginning to see earning a Rose Bowl berth at Oklahoma isn’t going to cut it for long. At Oklahoma, we expect to compete for college football supremacy not just this year, but every year.
ONE (FORMER) PLAYER: Roy Williams
Late Wednesday night Roy Williams dropped this tweet that seemed to imply he wouldn’t mind coaching Sooner target and U.S. Army All-American safety Leon O’Neal Jr. This could be as simple as Williams wanting to work 1-on-1 with O’Neal.
Or he could be alluding to something larger.
Riley is still in the market for a 10th assistant to add to his staff. It’d be re-DONK-U-lous if that assistant was Superman himself (or if he at least came on in some capacity). I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.
UPDATE: Not gonna happen, BUT...
Let me go head & put this to rest, I am not joining the coaching staff. I love my school and I would do anything for the team. But I have bigger plans in sight for the University. . https://t.co/nybS2T1xm2— roy williams (@roywilliams31) January 18, 2018
ONE FINAL THOUGHT: Rig it, Joe!
Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione was named to the College Football Playoff selection committee for the upcoming season, and that means he has just one job from where I’m sitting—my couch in case you wondered—and that’s to rig the final rankings in December in favor of the Big 12.
Now, first, I full understand Castiglione won’t be able to rig the rankings unless PricewaterhouseCoopers drops the envelope in front him. I also understand the man has too much integrity to do such a thing. But I do feel the selection committee has lost its credibility after this season.
Yes, the committee picked a team (Alabama) that eventually won the national title. It also picked a team that played a bad non-conference schedule (also Bama), a bad non-conference team in Mercer (Bama too), didn’t win its division (Bama here), let alone conference championship (Bama as well) and then did the unspeakable in giving that team (Bama again) another week of rest the other three teams in the College Football Playoff did not receive because they were too busy trying to be the best team in their conference thinking that would matter to the committee more than getting beat by a team (Auburn) that got beat by Central Florida the committee wouldn’t even consider for the College Football Playoff — despite finishing the season undefeated.
The selection committee did everything but stock the ballot box, and the credibility of the sport we love took a hit because of it. So by all means, Joe C., do what you can to rig the system until the system fails enough for we college football fans to get the eight-team playoff we deserve. Or there will be UCF’s claiming national titles in the future, just as there have been in the past.