Spring football is less than a month away, and Oklahoma has to get back out on the recruiting trail, where Montgomery was the Big 12’s best.
He’ll be tough to replace, but here are a few names – from all different angles:
Corey Callens, Oklahoma graduate assistant
Why it works: Callens was praised for his offseason work as a recruiter when the Sooners were short-staffed. He knows the program, having played for the Sooners and been on the staff for almost two years.
Why it doesn’t: It’s not a big enough splash hire. Replacing Jerry Montgomery, considered by many to be one of the top young assistant in football, with a relative unknown outside of Norman and a graduate assistant – albeit a talented one – with no experience would be seen as a negative.
Ilaisa Tuiaki, Oregon State LB
Why it works: Tuiaki would bring a successful attacking mindset to Oklahoma after Utah finished first in the nation in sacks (4.33 per game) and fourth in tackles for loss (8.33). He doesn’t run a 3-4 but has a similar mentality, allowing linebacker to make plays with linemen creating holes. Just 36, Tuiaki is a fast-riser – like Montgomery – and specialized in Dallas and Central Valley California while recruiting at Utah.
Why it doesn’t: Tuiaki would likely have to be a co-DC if he came over from the Utes. He doesn’t have any connection with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, and it would seem unlikely that Stoops would hand over a DC spot to someone that hasn’t come up through the staff – although OC Lincoln Riley shows that might not be the chase. But Tuiaki just moved over to Oregon State. It's not a deal-breaker, but it doesn't help.
Ikaika Malloe, Utah State DC
Why it works: Malloe helped put together one of the best all-around defensive lines in the country. Although competition-considered, Utah State ranked third nationally in sacks during the season and is one of just seven teams to have 50 sacks in each of the past seven seasons. They were also second nationally in tackles for loss and finished 16th in yards per carry – joining Missouri at the only teams in the country to rank that high in both. Malloe, still younger than 40, would come in as the Sooners’ defensive line coach and not its defensive coordinator.
Why it doesn’t: Malloe has 13 years of coaching experience but his resume is lacking of a big-name school. He’s coached at Utah State, Portland State, Yale, Hawai’i, UTEP and Western Illinois. He wouldn’t be a direct replacement for Montgomery now but is an up-and-coming young coach who could become Motgomery’s equal.
Sean Spencer, Penn State DC
Why it works: Spencer came to the Nittany Lions from Vanderbilt with head coach James Franklin and immediately built the nation’s top run-stuffing defense. Penn State ranked first in yards per game and in yards per carry, after finishing 37th and 42nd respectively last season. He is considered as one of the best – if not the best – position coach in the country. He likely would be the Sooners co-defensive coordinator.
Why it doesn’t: Spencer isn’t the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator, so it’s another case of a coach that hasn’t called plays on the highest level. Neither had Montgomery though when he came to the Sooners – and he still hasn’t. Spencer might not leave Penn State, where he has a collection of close knit coaches.
Brady Hoke, former Michigan head coach
Why it works: The former Wolverines’ head coach has been linked to Notre Dame, back at Michigan and also as the head coach at Central Michigan. Except at Michigan, Hoke has turned around every program he has been a part of and is an experience big-name coach. He might just be looking for a fresh start. Although it has been a while, when Hokes was an assistant coach at Michigan, he was a California-based recruiter.
Why it doesn’t: The reason he’s looking for a fresh start. Hoke couldn’t cut it at Michigan, which had a worse record every season under Hoke. He was removed as coach after a scandal in which he played quarterback Shane Morris, who was obviously suffering from a concussion. Still debated is whether Hoke knew about it.
Why it works: With 21 years of experience, Wilson could come home from USC. He coached at Oklahoma from 2005-2009 and played for the Sooners for four years. He’s not the recruiter that Montgomery turned out to be but isn’t a liability on the trail. He’d clearly bring a level in experience in Texas and California when it comes to picking high school players. USC averaged 2.5 sacks and allowed 3.85 yards per carry last season.
Why it doesn’t: He has been at USC for little more than a year, so would he want to jump ship on a team that quickly – even if it is coming home. Also, Wilson’s son just walked-on with USC. There’s a lot holding Wilson in Southern California.
Tyson Summers, Colorado State DC
Why it works: A recruiting ace and the brains behind the Central Florida defense this season that was the sixth-best run defense in the country. In his first season as defensive coordinator at UCF, Summers also posted the seventh-best overall and the eighth-best scoring defenses. Just 34 years old, Summers has the chance to become one of the top coordinators in the country – kind of like Riley.
Why it doesn’t:He’s not at UCF anymore, is he? Summers became the Colorado State defensive coordinator in December, and Oklahoma would have to pull something special. Summers has also specialized in coaching linebackers, although it’s not impossible to think that Mike Stoops could move down to the defensive line.