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Joe Castiglione May Have to Break Precedent With Oklahoma Hire

The Sooners have had great success elevating assistants, but that was in a different era of college football.

Joe Castiglione has a massive decision on his hands.

Lincoln Riley left the Sooners high and dry, and with a move to the SEC looming, Oklahoma is in need of a new head coach.

Castiglione obviously made the right call in 1999 during his first search as an athletic director when he hired then Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops, and again he struck gold when he elevated Riley from offensive coordinator to head coach in 2017.

But there was no real coaching search in 2017, and college football is a completely different animal than it was last time Castiglione was in the head coaching market.

Historically, the Sooners have found success hiring coordinators.

Barry Switzer was an offensive coordinator. Stoops marshaled the defense. Riley was the next great offensive mind. 

In fact, since 1946, Howard Schnellenberger has been the only hire who arrived on campus in Norman with previous head coaching experience.

This time around, Castiglione refused to lay out the path forward will look like for his hire, as he didn’t want to show his hand quite yet.

“That’s telegraphing our process and I’m not going to do it,” Castiglione said.

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Castiglione may have to change Oklahoma’s stripes, however.

Signing Day is rapidly approaching on Dec. 15, and coaches are no longer afforded two months on the job to stop the bleeding on the recruiting trail.

Additionally, the Sooners have one of the most talented rosters in the country, and teams everywhere will be waiting in the wings happy to take on any current players who opt to hit the transfer portal.

Oklahoma may need to make a splash to solidify their 2022 recruiting class, and more importantly keep players the caliber of quarterback Caleb Williams on campus.

Castiglione will have to survey all options, something he seems ready to do.

“But why would I change models?” Castiglione said. “That doesn’t imply or there’s nothing hidden in my remarks that I’m not open to hiring a sitting head coach versus hiring an outstanding rising star that has not had head coaching experience. My benchmark is hiring the best coach for the University of Oklahoma.

“It always has been and it always will be.”

Maybe Stoops can step in, circle the wagons and stabilize things in the interim, but Castiglione needs to make a statement of intent with his hire not just to fans, but to potential recruits and the current roster.

A star coordinator might not cut it for what OU needs right now.