The end of 2014 couldn’t have gone any worse for Oklahoma on the field. A demoralizing home loss to Bedlam rival Oklahoma State followed by an embarrassing loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Sooners entered the final month of the recruiting cycle with zero momentum based on the on-field results.
OU coach Bob Stoops knew he needed to make changes. Not one, not two, not three, but four new coaches in the last two months and multiple coaches having their responsibilities switched up.
Stoops said he didn’t feel the uncertainty to close out the 2015 class where OU finished 14th in the Scout rankings.
“It was business as usual,” Stoops said. “I would say that we felt great in the situation we were in just because it didn’t hurt us (at receiver and defensive back).
“I think as much as anything the receivers were interested in the direction we were going with Coach (Lincoln) Riley and what he was able to project to them. I thought he did an excellent job, along with the other coaches.”
The addition of Lincoln Riley helped the offensive recruiting not go off the rails but changes defensively and questions defensively were abound in Norman.
Not so much for the 2015 class but definitely for the 2016 class. Other schools were going to use that as ammo against OU in the trail. They would have been fools not to use it.
Assistant coaches can only do so much to assure recruits and parents about everything. OU needed Bob Stoops to be that face, that voice once again. Stoops delivered.
Just when it looked like OU had its foundation set for the 2015 season on defense with the addition of Kerry Cooks as defensive backs coach, OU was delivered a curveball with newly promoted co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery leaving for the Green Bay Packers.
Everything Stoops had just done with defensive backs and preaching patience that everything will be OK, he had to do once again.
But this wasn’t going to be on the phone conversations. Montgomery’s announcement came just days before OU’s first junior day. There weren’t a lot of defensive linemen set to be in Norman, but there were some key ones like Euless (Texas) Trinity Scout 100 defensive lineman Chris Daniels.
Stoops delivered again in making sure none of those recruits shut the door on the Sooners. Multiple recruits, from various positions, said their No. 1 contact right now has been Bob Stoops. Now with Diron Reynolds in the fold, Stoops can take a small backseat and let his assistants get to work.
“I know everyone loves to say, everyone wants to say it’s this guy, it’s only that guy,” Stoops said. “It should never only be one guy (in recruiting). Rarely is it with us. It shouldn’t be. I want collaborative efforts all of the time between myself, of course, but multiple coaches.
“There should always be two, three, or four guys that have a part in it. When we do our best job, that’s what it is and that’s what it should be as opposed to one person.”
Stoops will take the spotlight once again next weekend for OU’s final junior day, but he can relax knowing he made sure OU’s 2016 class didn’t go off the rails.
You can’t win 90 percent of recruiting battles in January, February or March, but you can certainly put yourself in a poor position and having to play catchup if you don’t attack it during those early months for a new cycle.