Oklahoma Sooners football coach Lincoln Riley finally showed his creativity extends beyond schemes and play-calling. With the hiring of Shane Beamer, who will have the title of assistant head coach for offense, Riley used the NCAA’s new rule to allow an assistant to the staff to add a man who has experience coaching all three phases.
Beamer, the son of Viriginia Tech legend Frank Beamer, has experience coaching running backs, tight ends, defensive backs and special teams. On top of all of that, he is an excellent recruiter. Someone who might challenge assistants Kerry Cooks and Cale Gundy for the most talented recruiter Oklahoma boasts in the coming years.
“He’s a tremendous person and recruiter, and will do nothing but add to the great staff that we already have,” Riley said in a release.
In the 2018 class, he led the recruitment of 6-foot-6, 248-pound Luke Ford. Ford is ranked as the No. 48 player in the country, according to 247 Sports, and signed with Georgia. Oklahoma and Alabama were the only other programs seriously in the running for his services. But it’s worth wondering aloud if Beamer was at OU and not UGA whether or not Ford would’ve been a Sooner?
Beamer is expected to help Riley with each week’s offensive game plan in 2018 while coaching H-backs and tight ends. What has Sooners fans so excited about Riley managing to hire Beamer away from the same Georgia Bulldog team that beat the Sooners in Rose Bowl is his knowledge of special teams.
Outside of kicker Austin Seibert, there was little to be excited about when OU’s special teams unit took the field. The punt team ranked third from the bottom of 129 FBS teams in punt return defense headed into Pasadena. You can argue that data is a bit skewed, though, because Seibert—who pulls double duty as OU’s punter—only allowed seven returns heading into the Rose Bowl.
While the Sooners had speed and cunning cutback artists at the kickoff return positions in wide out Jeff Badet and running back Marcelias Sutton, Oklahoma didn’t return a kickoff for a touchdown all season. This also is true of punt returns where wideout CeeDee Lamb was catching fly balls, handing them to the referee and then heading toward his outside receiver position where he did his real work.
Some of this is circumstance. If you can’t return a kickoff because it’s gone out of the back of the end zone or a punt because there’s nowhere to run, that blame can’t be placed at the feet of special teams coach Jay Boulware. However, it will be nice to have a proven special teams coach who was raised, coached by and for the special teams coach—Beamer Ball, anybody?—put his eyes on OU’s film and look for ways to improve a unit that didn’t produce the kind of explosive plays—returns and blocked kicks—we’ve seen from the Sooners in the past.
”I had a great job at the University of Georgia and they’ve been great to me,” Beamer said in a release. “At the end of the day, the opportunity to work with Coach Riley and the rest of the staff at Oklahoma was one that I didn’t feel like my family and I could pass up. Lincoln’s reputation as an offensive mind and as a head coach is second to none. It’s exciting for me to be learn from him and his system.”
Beamer also brings a Southeastern Conference pedigree. He’s worked under Sylvester Croom, Phillip Fulmer and Steve Spurrier. This is the kind of resume Sooners fans look for when we talk about folks to coach in Norman. After all, Spurrier sent Oklahoma its last legendary coach in Bob Stoops. In Beamer’s hiring, we also got to see more about what Riley is like as a head man making personnel decisions.
Beamer, at 40, is older than Riley. But he’s not so old that he can’t connect with Riley and see the game, recruiting and the business of running a big boy college football program as Riley does. Additionally, Beamer is now one of five members of this OU staff who has coached a national championship game and is the only member of the staff who played in a national title game—1999 when the Hokies finished the regular season at No. 2 in the country and fell to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
With this hire, Riley showed he’s not just going to surround himself with people he knows. He’s going to surround himself with people who know how to win.