While Lincoln Riley is a highly respected name in the college football world, there is no denying that having a 33-year-old at the helm of a blue blood program like Oklahoma isn’t a regular occurrence. With that in mind, the Sooners added a very interesting name to the mix on the coaching staff on Wednesday in the form of Ruffin McNeill.
Riley previously worked alongside McNeill at Texas Tech and, in an odd twist, worked under McNeill as the offensive coordinator while McNeill was the head coach at East Carolina. McNeill spent the 2016 season on the staff at Virginia but, prior to that, he engineered real success at the helm for the Pirates.
To announce McNeill’s arrival, Riley had this to say about the new addition, via CBS Sports:
“Personally, I have a great history with [McNeill] from our time together at Texas Tech and East Carolina. We’re getting an extremely high-quality person and coach. Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he’ll bring to our program.
“Ruffin possesses a distinguished record defensively, and I’m excited to see him work alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of our staff on that side of the ball. I view the defensive line as one of the most important — if not the most important — position groups on the field, and he’ll be a big benefit to our student-athletes and to our program as a whole.”
In the end, McNeill will be charged with turning around a defense that sputtered in 2016 and that is absolutely his mandate. It certainly helps, though, that he brings head coaching experience and previous relationship with the new man-in-charge in Norman.