Stoops addresses coaching changes, schedule

See inside for Bob Stoops' comments on the hiring of a new offensive line coach and the Sooners' 2006 schedule.

OU Head Football Coach Bob Stoops announced today that he had hired Northwestern University offensive line coach James Patton to be his offensive line coach. Coach Stoops said that OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson would move from offensive line coach to tight end/fullback coach, which would move Kevin Sumlin from tight end/fullback coach to wide receiver.

Stoops explained his decisions today in a conference call with the media.

JH: Coach could you please give your thoughts on your staff decisions today?

BS: "I just felt that working with the O-line itself is such a huge task, that it almost consumes you. No. 1, there are so many players to work with every day. Usually, when you get your depth where it should be it is 15 to 20 guys. Then you are constantly managing them through the year with academics, how they are doing in the weight room and then on top of that in recruiting. You have to recruit so many every year that becomes a huge chore too.

"When I really noticed it was in the Holiday Bowl. I am on the headphones and I am trying to get hold of Kevin to find out what we are thinking about the next series, how he is going to mix it up and find out what we should come back to, and he is not on the headphones. I look back and he is back there coaching those guys (OL) all up. He has them in a huddle and he is going over corrections. So, I think it is really hard when you are working with that number of players, five positions up there, to call the game. I just think it is more difficult to call the game.

"Then I started thinking about practices leading up to that game that if he is not coaching the line he has a chance to be in pass situations, calling all the passes, setting all the pass plays up along with Coach Sumlin. He has a chance to be there and decide if he likes what he sees, or doesn't like what he sees, and he can look at what the quarterbacks are doing. I just felt putting him (Wilson) at tight ends/fullbacks really gives him the opportunity to be in the middle of everything.

"The tight ends and fullbacks are involved in pass protection and they are involved in the pass routes themselves. They are involved in the run game as well, so he has a chance to call it all in the inside drill and he has a chance to move to pass scale and be there to call everything to see what he likes and doesn't like. Then there are only a certain number of players at those two positions, maybe six to eight players to manage every day.

"I like now how it has come through moving Kevin Sumlin to receivers, which is a position that is very natural for him. He has coached receivers for a great number of years for some schools that throw it well. Moving him to passing coordinator, I have great confidence in Kevin as well that the two of them will work well together. That was the first part of it.

"James (Patton), I have known for a little while. But more than that, I just keep noticing and watched how successful and how well Northwestern had done offensively. You see the great job they have done moving the ball this year, and every year really. James does a great job getting after those guys in their offensive line at Northwestern, and they way they have played fit us. He has some time already working with Kevin Wilson, so that will be an easy fit.

"I like the success he has had more than anything at Northwestern, and I like the success he had as a player himself. He was really a hard-playing and successful player (Miami of Ohio) also. When we made the switch of moving Kevin and Kevin to their new positions, I thought James fit what we were looking for. He had great success in the O-line at Northwestern."

JH: Was the fact that Kevin Sumlin was a successful wide receiver coach before at other program a major factor in your decisions?

BS: "Yeah, Kevin had great experience at Purdue and Wyoming before he went to Texas A&M coaching receivers and in some very productive passing schemes. I have great confidence that he will do a great job."

MEDIA: Did you have a lot of other candidates? Or did you zero in on him (Patton) from the start?

BS: "Of course, there were a great number of people interested at all positions. There were a great number of receiver coaches interested and a great number of tight end/fullback coaches. People realized that there were a lot of different ways we could go with this and there were really a good number of O-line candidates out there. However, I just kept coming back to James every time I keep analyzing everybody and talking to different people, and felt he was the right the guy. He was the best guy."

MEDIA: How long did this process take?

BS: "Count up the days since Darrell (Wyatt) left.

MEDIA: I just figured with recruiting going on that you were waiting for that to get over before you looked into it?

BS: "Yeah, but I am always thinking about what I am going to do. I have been mulling it over since that time. You are right, I was intentionally not going to move on it until after recruiting for the reasons I said before. I felt our recruiting was solid and in a good position, and I didn't want to go after someone and maybe not get the person you want because maybe they didn't want to leave somebody in the last hour of their recruiting."

MEDIA: Do you have to hire a special teams coach now?

BS: "I have to work through that. I don't have to hire anybody, but I do have to put somebody in that position or handle it myself like I have in the past. In the end, since we have been here have split up special teams. It has never been left to solely to one guy to run them all. So, I don't believe that will be much of an issue."

MEDIA: How do you go about determining who are the so-called up and comers in your profession?

BS: "I don't. I pay attention to who is doing well as I am always very cognizant of who is playing great defense. I think I know a really good defense when I see it. I am always watching other people and other teams play and other conferences, and how they are playing. I am always watching who is doing well offensively and defensively. I usually pay attention to not just the guys who are coordinating them, but to the guys who are there with them."

MEDIA: You get (Jermaine) Gresham at the end and now you are switching people around on offense, so does this mean that the offense will change some as far more fullback or tight end game in the future?

BS: "In the past people act like we haven't thrown to the tight end lately. Well, were we supposed to split out Bubba Moses? That is not what Bubba does, if you know what I mean. We didn't have Trent Smith anymore and I think with Gresham the confidence that we were showing him, with our offense is that we know how to do this when we have a guy who fits it well. So in the end, we will play to our talent, to our abilities and to the players that we have.

"Sure, Jermaine has that kind of ability to run and split out wide. I believe that he will grow and be a really strong impact guy at the point of attack as a tight end, which is his true position. However, we will move him around and try to get him in some mismatches out there in different ways. We have done that before, but did that fit our tight end style the last couple of years? Not really. And I don't think anybody would disagree with that."

MEDIA: With Gresham's knee injury, do you expect him to play next season?

BS: "Is he healthy enough now? No. He has only been a month or two out of surgery. Should he be ready by next season? Absolutely. We hope he will be and we are going to expect him to be. Hopefully as his rehab goes he will be able to do that. Right now he looks great from what I understand. He has had no swelling and he has had no issues whatsoever. When I have seen him in person he looks fantastic walking around and moving, but there is a long way to go yet. But, yeah, we do expect him to be able to play."

MEDIA: How much of a factor was it that Kevin Wilson was familiar with James and was comfortable with him as an offensive line coach?

BS: "It was somewhat of a factor, but it wasn't the only factor. The first factor for me was the success that he has had at Northwestern and the success they have had in their offense. Second, getting first-hand information on how the guy coaches, the style and how he works. Then how he goes after it so you do have a certain confidence from someone who has worked with him so you know what you are getting since I haven't coached with him.

"So, to a certain degree it matters. It will be good and will allow for an easier transition with our offensive line guys in that since they have worked together before. There is not going to be any problem there if Kevin jumps in and says, "Hey, this is how we have done it before." Usually when you have a guy who has worked with him so long, it is easy to take and you work together really well."

MEDIA: Can you talk about the schedule that you have in place now for next season?

BS: "I think Joe (Castiglione) always does an amazing job finishing and putting it all together. I think it has been tough for everybody around the country getting that 12th game and we are fortunate that it doesn't have to be a 1-AA team. We are just very aware of the strength of our schedule if you do have BCS and National Championship implications that we need to be in a situation where we are as strong as we can be.

"I think Joe has done that again by getting Middle Tennessee State there at the end. They are a 1-A team we didn't have a lot of people wanting to play us or people that were able to play us. So in the end, we got two marquee games with Washington here and going to Oregon. Playing Oregon for three straight games has become an exciting rivalry between two really good programs. Now with Washington coming here, that is exciting too. And on top of that, we open up with UAB. So it is really solid early.

"We have moved Oklahoma State to Thanksgiving and that gives us four games and a chance to catch our breath, and to really zero in on the Big 12 schedule."

MEDIA: Is this a good time for a new coach to join your staff?

BS: It is a perfect time because we are going back critiquing all that we did this past year."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories