Lincoln Riley has decided to leave Oklahoma for USC. They are now in the market for a new head coach. Here are five potential head coach candidates for the Oklahoma Sooners.
1. Josh Heupel
Josh Heupel has spent just one season at Tennessee so far, but he has already helped the Volunteers find success. They are 7-5 and heading to a bowl game. Before getting the job at Tennessee, Heupel posted a 28-8 record at UCF. He led them to a New Year’s Six Bowl in his first year, as they played in the Fiesta Bowl. Heupel has also spent time at Oklahoma, Arizona and Utah State as an assistant.
Adding on to his experience at Oklahoma as an assistant, Heupel also quarterbacked the Sooners and was an All-American in 2000. The ties to the program are there and now that he has proven that he can be a head coach at a high level, he would be the perfect candidate for the Sooners. That is if they can both get over the fact that he was fired as co-offensive coordinator following the 2015 season. His offensive mindset could fit in well with the personnel already on the Oklahoma roster.
2. Brent Venables
*Bob Stoops has been removed after shooting down any hopes that he would return in the press conference to introduce him as interim coach. Venables, an omission originally, has been added in his place.
Venables is a name that a lot of fans will recognize. He has been the defensive coordinator for Clemson since 2012. This season, the offense didn’t produce, but Clemson had one of the best defenses in the country. He also was a defensive coordinator for Oklahoma under Bob Stoops.
His ability to produce good defenses has made him a candidate for plenty of jobs before, but Oklahoma might be the right fit for him to leave. He has plenty of experience coaching at the school and he has plenty of experience recruiting nationally, which will be needed at Oklahoma. Rumors have it that Oklahoma is interested, so Venables might be the next man in charge in Norman.
3. Jay Norvell
Jay Norvell helped Nevada go 8-4 this season. He also developed a good quarterback in Carson Strong, which aided the team greatly. In five years as a head coach of Nevada, Norvell has a 33-26 record. After winning just three games in his first year, he has made a bowl game in each year since. He has experience as an assistant at Iowa, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Nebraska, UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona State.
Norvell also has NFL experience under his belt which could be appealing. He was fired by Oklahoma as the co-offensive coordinator, so Norvell would have to forgive the university to take the job. It is a big question whether AD Joe Castiglione would hire Norvell after firing him, but Norvell is a hot name in the coaching market and deserves a power five job.
4. Alex Grinch
Alex Grinch has been a good defensive coordinator for a couple of big programs. At Oklahoma, he has really improved the defense, which was needed, as the offense didn’t have the same output as they did in past years. They allowed 25.3 points per game this season under Grinch. He helped Washington State and Ohio State turn around their defenses before getting to Oklahoma.
If the Sooners want to keep a coach who is already there in charge, Grinch is the most likely candidate. He should be able to recruit well, as he has been doing that already for the Sooners. Grinch could continue to improve the defense as the team goes into the SEC in the coming years. It wouldn’t be the flashiest hire, but Grinch can be successful for the Sooners.
5. Matt Campbell
Oklahoma has some familiarity playing against Matt Campbell. The Iowa State coach has totally revamped the program and posted a 42-33 record in six seasons at the school. The Cyclones aren’t historically great at football, but Campbell even led the team to a Big 12 Championship Game in 2020. Before coaching Oklahoma, Campbell had a 35-15 record at Toledo. The Rockets had three nine-win seasons under Campbell.
Campbell has been successful in developing talent at Iowa State. With Oklahoma’s resources, Campbell should be able to recruit, even as the Sooners go to the SEC. His turnaround has been great and Campbell feels like a coach who would stay for a while if given the chance to coach a top program. Oklahoma will have a lot of candidates to look through, but Campbell might be just the right fit for them.
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