More Eyes in the OU Coaching Offices
Head coach Bob Stoops announced several changes and additions to the OU Football support staff on Wednesday. Those moves included the promotion of Reed Case to director of player personnel and the formal announcement of the additions of Rajeeb Hossain (director of high school relations) and Tiffany Byrd (director of sports nutrition). You can read the full release here.
In fact, we’ll have a profile this week on Byrd and how she’s adding more color and nutrients to the diets of the Sooners as she helps them fuel up.
Earlier in the week, Stoops explained the roles of three individuals who will take a hands-on role with X’s and O’s behind the scenes with the coaching staff.
“We actually have been short-handed compared to everybody else for a number of years,” he explained. “What they do is more breaking down the opponents’ tapes and cutting them up into different sections with defenses, offenses, whatever. Then diagramming notebooks or diagramming defensive or offensive plays to pass out to the players, so it’s a lot of breaking down tape and diagramming and those types of things to assist the assistant coaches and primarily the coordinators.”
While they will likely work in relative obscurity in the Switzer Center, here is a quick look at three more individuals who will be helping provide the Sooners with a competitive edge.
Joe Jon Finley (working with offense) is a familiar face for OU fans after catching 62 passes for 775 yards and 10 touchdowns at tight end for the Sooners from 2004-07. Finley returned to Norman last season after spending time on the NFL rosters of San Francisco, Detroit and Carolina.
Ryan McKim (working with special teams) – McKim joins OU after spending three seasons at Iowa State as assistant recruiting coordinator. While with the Cyclones he was responsible for recruiting film, recruiting correspondence, and working as a liaison between the football program and its NFL contacts.
Chad Walker (working with defense) joins the Sooners after serving as defensive coordinator at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss. He also spent three seasons with the Miami Dolphins as a defensive quality control coach and fulfilled a similar role for two seasons on Nick Saban’s staff at LSU, including their 2003 national championship season.
SiriusXM College Sports Nation Camp Tour 2013
The SiriusXM College Sports Nation Camp Tour 2013 stopped at the Switzer Center today as Mark Packer and former Ole Miss and Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt spent the day in Norman.
In case you missed today’s broadcast, we’ve embedded links to interviews with Joe Castiglione, Bob Stoops, Gabe Ikard, Corey Nelson, Brennan Clay and Trey Millard. Oh, and some guy named Barry Switzer also stopped by. More on that later.
After their three-hour on-air stint, Packer and Nutt took time to catch up with Sooner Report to share some thoughts on their visit.
“We go all over the country,” Packer said from the second floor of the Switzer Center following the show. “Ohio State’s got great tradition, Nebraska’s got great tradition, anybody in the Southeastern Conference has got great tradition, but this is my favorite trophy room (Switzer Center).”
“You’ve got so much to choose from,” he continued. “It’s the only school in the country with four coaches who have won 100 or more games. You could go to different eras of domination and go, man alive that’s how Bud Wilkinson did it in the ‘50s, man that’s how Barry Switzer did it in the ‘70s, wow that’s how Bob Stoops is going it. I just think it’s so unique. It doesn’t take away from what Nebraska has accomplished or Texas or anybody else but for me you see so much different stuff, again, it’s my favorite one we go to.”
Nutt also spoke of the great tradition at OU, including the chance to see old coaching friends again among the Sooner greats.
“They’re my idols,” Nutt said. “They’re my heroes. I’ve looked up to Barry Switzer; I’ve studied him. Merv Johnson is the same way. I’ve coached against them and they’re just great people. They’ve been great for the game. The biggest thing they do is they make a difference with young people. They’ve made a difference in their lives.”
Asked about their impressions of the OU squad, Packer pointed to the Sooners’ blocking unit as a strength heading into the season.
“The offense line stood out to me,” the veteran broadcaster said. “What Gabe (Ikard) had to say being the experienced guy, when he says ‘I’ve got a lot of talented guys with a lot of starts,” I think in college football you’ve got to have the quarterback which of course is a question mark here, but you must have good offensive and defensive lines. Because without them you’re not going to beat anybody, I don’t care if it’s the Big 12, ACC, Pac 12, Big Ten, whatever. If you’re not good up front you can’t compete.”
Upon walking onto the OU practice field, Nutt immediately asked, “Who’s number 33?” After being the first physical specimen who caught the longtime coach’s attention on the field, Nutt gained an even greater appreciation for the Sooners’ multi-purpose threat.
“Trey Millard is the guy to me who stands out. I love his attitude. He’s a throwback because he’s a fullback/H-back and he’s a tremendous special teams player. You can tell he’s one of the leaders on this football team.”
As an individual very familiar with the role that facilities play in the recruiting process, Nutt was “blown away” by Headington Hall. However, he was equally enthused about the overall convenience of the OU Athletics footprint.
“I’ve been to so many museums, locker rooms, dorms and to me it’s the best of the best at Oklahoma,” Nutt said. “The reason I say that is the way it’s laid out. It’s really what I call ‘player friendly.’ You’re not walking 800 yards over here or 900 yards over here. It’s all right here. You walk downstairs and there’s the locker room, you walk over to the weight room, walk out to the practice field, everything is just laid out perfectly. What a recruiting tool when you have these types of conditions, rich traditions and winning championships. It’s an easy sell.”
While facilities are certainly an important piece of the puzzle, Packer provided a tidbit about the leadership at the University of Oklahoma that spoke volumes about OU’s tradition of consistent athletic success.
“One of the things that (Coach Stoops) pointed out today which is underrated is the continuity in leadership,” Packer said. “President (David) Boren, Joe Castiglione, they’ve all fallen under the same umbrella and have all been here together. I think that’s true even when you’re putting your staff together. There are always changes in one way or another but when you’re looking at the best programs in college football, it’s the ones that have been together the longest.
“For a guy to be entering his 15th year at a pressure cooker like Oklahoma it tells you that the guy knows what he’s doing,” Packer concluded on Stoops. “It starts at the top; it’s true of any business whether it be a big-time college football situation like this or whether you’re running a gas station. If you don’t have good leadership, you’ve got no shot. To be going into your 15th year at the top of his game, enough said.”
Barry Switzer Reminisces on SiriusXM
Fittingly, Barry Switzer was at the Switzer Center today, spinning some entertaining tales with Nutt and Packer. While we’ll save some of Coach Switzer’s other memories for another day, here were a couple classics that he savored with the SiriusXM College Nation audience.
As Nutt and Packer toured the Switzer Center earlier today, they saw this Switzer quote brandished in a stairwell: “People don’t know what it means to be champions. Oklahoma invented it.”
“I said that in Colorado in the locker room before a ball game,” Switzer recalled. “We were getting ready to play Colorado and believe it or not it was the championship game, it was after they’d gone to the wishbone and gotten good. We were playing them up there and Texas A&M had just won their first Southwest Conference championship I think in 15 years under Jackie Sherrill and I was commenting on how they’re all shot in the rear end about them winning the championship and we’ve won about eight or nine in a row. Everybody thinks that’s a big deal, but we invented it, damn it. I just meant it as a talk before a ball game but they always like to take quotes and it works I guess. Looks good in black and white!”
Knowing that both Nutt and Switzer were both born in Arkansas and that both played and coached at Arkansas, the topic of two particular OU-Arkansas games came up. According to the coach with the most victories in Oklahoma history, only once did Switzer exhort the Sooners to “win one for him,” with that contest being in the 1987 Orange Bowl. To this day, Switzer maintains a 31-6 setback to his alma mater in the 1978 Orange Bowl – with a national championship on the line – is the “most disappointing loss of his career.”
“I’ll tell you, there is only one game I ever asked a team to win a game for me,” he told the national radio audience. “I went through so much hell over getting my ass beat by Arkansas in 1977 by Lou Holtz. Every time I go back to Arkansas, they bring that up, they never let me forget. You know what they never bring up that one where I got them in ’87 at the Orange Bowl, and that is the one I talked about to my team. I had Eric Mitchell, Keith Jackson, and Mark Hutson and some great players I had recruited out of Arkansas. I told them: ‘Guys, I have never asked a team to win a game for me, but this game here means more to me than any game I have ever coached at Oklahoma. I’ve got to beat their ass; we can’t lose to them again.’
“That’s the only time. That’s the only time I ever thought about winning as so important because being from Arkansas, and the embarrassment they put on us that night. But they were a good team, they were deserving of the win because they did a better coaching job. I’ll tell you another thing too that really happened. Our guys had an inflated value of themselves. If you had watched television that day when Notre Dame had beaten Texas, I’m sitting there in our hotel room with all the coaches and I watched Texas, undefeated, lose to Notre Dame. All of a sudden, and Lou Holtz set it all up by kicking these three guys off, they’re an 18-point underdog. Our guys know it, everybody knows it, and all of a sudden that damn guy on national television says that Oklahoma will win its third national championship in the last four years tonight. I looked at my coaches and I said, ‘Guys you better get your ass in that room with all those players because every one of them heard this. We’ll fight for our lives tonight to win this.’ But it was too late. It was too late on Saturday to get ready to play the game Saturday night.
“We gave it to them and they scored from the seven-yard line. It was drizzling rain and I told Galen Hall before the damn ball game I told Galen, ‘Let’s kick off.’ He said, ‘Coach, we’re playing for the national championship, we can’t kickoff, we’ve got to get this thing going.’ I said, ‘It’s a percentage thing, let’s kick and play defense first. We’ve got a great defense, we’ll play with them on defense.” We received the ball, Galen talks me into taking it and we fumble the ball at the seven-yard line and they get it and score. From then on we turn the ball over quite a bit, but they out-schemed us, outcoached us.
But there was a humorous silver lining following the loss thanks to Switzer’s son, Greg:
“Now after that ball game there was one of the great lines of all-time. After the ball game’s over I’ve got to suck up my guts and grab [son] Greg, who was 10 years old, and he said, ‘Where are we going, Dad?’ I said, ‘We’re going to the Arkansas locker room. I know all these guys and I’ve got to go talk to them and congratulate Coach Holtz. Greg didn’t want to go and I said, ‘C’mon, it’s a life lesson, let’s go.’
“So we go into the locker room. Greg’s quietly going around with me and by that time Holtz had done all his media stuff and as the head coach you’re the last one out of the showers so he comes out of the shower and is drying off and wrapping a towel around him. Greg and I walk over to congratulate him and of course he’s got to brag on me for my son to hear all this. Greg’s sitting there hearing all this and hasn’t said one word since we entered that locker room.
“We leave the locker room going back to our locker room and all of a sudden Greg Switzer says to me, ‘Daddy, did Lou Holtz ever play football?’ I started laughing and said, ‘it’s worth every step I took over here and all the humiliation I went through.’ My son, he was as big as Lou Holtz and he said, ‘Did Lou Holtz ever play football?’
“I told ol’ Lou that, too!”
Out of the mouths of babes, out of the mouth of Sooners, out of the mouths of Switzers!