Following the firing of Mike Stoops, Ruffin McNeill will take over the the interim defensive coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners. Additionally, defensive specialist Bob Diaco will now be the outside linebackers coach on an interim basis. The move away from Stoops was first reported by James Hale of The Football Brainiacs on Sunday evening.
OFFICIAL: Coach Riley announces defensive staff changes for the remainder of the season.— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) October 8, 2018
Release: https://t.co/4X0oJLXj1D pic.twitter.com/1HRK6q9loU
“Ruffin has an impressive résumé,” Riley said. “That’s why I wanted him on our staff in the first place. I have confidence in his knowledge and leadership. Bob has a lot of experience in very good programs and also has a list of accomplishments that will help him step in and make an immediate impact. We are fortunate to have these men in our program. They’ll be ready to get to work in new roles right away.”
As most of you are aware, McNeill is the former East Carolina head coach who once hired OU head coach Lincoln Riley as offensive coordinator. After ECU let him go — he’d led three straight bowl trips, but the Pirates are likely amid their third straight bowl season without him — he became an assistant head coach at Virginia and then OU, and is also OU’s defensive tackles coach.
Back in 2007, McNeill took over a TTU defense that’d ranked No. 69 in S&P+. His 2009 defense ranked No. 27 in that same category and No. 24 in yards allowed per play. He’s showed it’s possible to marry competent defense with Mike Leach-inspired air raid offense in the Big 12, and competent would be a big step up for the Sooners.
Diaco also has an interesting track record. He has a great defensive background — he was Notre Dame’s DC when the Irish won in Norman in 2012 — and has extensive history coaching linebackers at a high level. His time as the head coach at UConn did not go well at all, nor did his one season as DC for Nebraska. However, trusting him with OU’s OLBs seems like a safe move, and it seems as if he was brought in with this possibility in mind.