Lincoln Riley continues to stamp his own image on the Oklahoma Sooners.
Jerry Schmidt, Bob Stoops’ most trusted lieutenant for nearly two decades, is gone, a member of Jimbo Fisher’s attempt to restore Texas A&M.
One source said it was a natural move, that OU’s strength and conditioning coach — who was the first person Stoops called when he got the job back in December of 1998 — simply wanted a change of scenery after Stoops retired last June.
Couple Stoops’ sudden exit with the fact that Schmidt’s annual salary of $339,000 had been passed again and again in recent years (he ranked 15th nationally among strength coaches last year), and his decision to leave makes perfect sense.
But another source close to the program say the move was more of a mutual decision, that Schmidt’s in-your-face methods were not entirely in line with how Riley wants to run his offseason program.
Schmidt is 55 years old, Riley is 34. Schmidt was always considered among the avant-garde in his profession, but a younger head coach naturally might want a more youthful approach to the most important element of his program.
Still, it’s odd seeing all the old Stoops soldiers leave. For a generation, Bob Stoops and Jerry Schmidt teamed up to dictate the fortunes of OU football, and now they’ve moved on.
Only Mike Stoops and Cale Gundy remain from Bob Stoops’ original coaching staff (though Stoops went to Arizona for eight years), and only Matt McMillen (Stoops’ right-hand administrative assistant), Scott Anderson (the Sooners’ head athletic trainer) and Merv Johnson (the former Barry Switzer assistant who served on Stoops’ operations staff and broadcast crew) are still around from Stoops’ first season.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.