OU looking outside its inner circle

Stoops finding talented Sooners assistant from around the country

When Bob Stoops arrived at Oklahoma after the program hadn’t had a winning season for five years, he almost immediately turned the coaching staff into a family.

He hasn’t made many changes since, and when he does, it almost always comes from within. Stoops has had six offensive coordinators since he arrived at Oklahoma. Just about every assistant was brought with him or brought up through the ranks.

It’s not like this always, but graduate assistants become regular assistants as the staff is altered but somehow always remained constant. “For a long time, stability, I felt was really strong and successful here,” Stoops said.

It was successful. With that plan, Oklahoma put together eight 11-plus win season in Stoops first 10 years.

Things are starting to change, though. In 2013, Stoops hired new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. He’d never coach with Montgomery before, and Montgomery wasn’t part of the inner circle.

Jay Boulware followed that same year as the Sooners’ special teams coordinator with no direct connection to Stoops.

Now with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and the promotion of Montgomery to co-defensive coordinator, Stoops has a pair of young bright minds heading – or helping head – the two major units.

Six degrees of separation can connect just about anyone, but Stoops is starting to look out of his tight-knit family for his top assistant coaches.

“Relationships to me ahead of time mean nothing,” Stoops said of having a connection with a potential coordinator before Riley was hired. “It’s who I feel and their style and what they’re doing that would be best for us. That has nothing to do with it.”

Riley might be a part of the Stoops’ coaching tree, having coached under former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mike Leach, but Riley made his name on the east coast.

Montgomery is an iron belt-product. He played at Iowa and coach at Michigan before coming to Oklahoma.

“(Sometimes), you need to go in a different direction,” Stoops said of bringing in new blood instead of relying on stability. “Sometimes, people go in a different direction and it’s worse. I don’t go in a different direction just to do it. It’s going to make improvement and be positive in my estimation.”

Even former wide receivers coach Jay Norvell, who was hired in 2008, wasn’t a part of the Sooners’ inner circle.<> With the retirement of Bobby Jack Wright, running backs coach Cale Gundy is the only assistant still on staff that has been with Stoops since he first took the job.

“Nothing’s changed,” Stoops said. “In the end, I’ve always said whatever is best moving forward is best for us, I need to do. Every year is different and it is the right thing for us moving forward.”

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