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Lincoln Riley selects Shane Beamer's replacement for Cotton Bowl

Ryan Dougherty, who's been a special teams analyst at Oklahoma since 2017, has been elevated for the Sooners' upcoming bowl game against Florida

With all the talk about opting out and COVID-19, Oklahoma went into this bowl season with one big personnel question mark that had nothing to do with either.

What would Lincoln Riley do with Shane Beamer’s position?

Beamer took the head coaching job at South Carolina on Dec. 6. Beamer came back to coach the season finale against Baylor and the Big 12 Championship game against Iowa State, but Lincoln Riley has been prepping for life without Beamer.

“We’ve elevated Ryan Dougherty, who’s been our special teams/quality control,” Riley said Tuesday during a joint video press conference with Florida coach Dan Mullen. “We’ve elevated him to coordinate and to take over Shane’s responsibilities, and he’s done a great job.”

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Dougherty is a native of Orlando, FL, and played at East Carolina from 2002-06. He previously coached special teams at ECU and Lehigh before Riley added him as part of his original OU staff in 2017 as a special teams analyst.

Beamer oversaw most of the special teams units, so with Dougherty’s history there, that’s a natural fit. Adding the duties of coaching Sooner H-backs and tight ends will be new. OU has plenty of experienced players at that position.

Also, it won’t be the first time Dougherty has stepped in for Beamer.

“We obviously didn’t have coach Beamer available for a game earlier this year,” Riley said, “and Ryan did the same thing, and he did a tremendous job. So he’ll serve in that same role, and he’s very comfortable and very well-versed in what we want to do there.”

No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 Florida clash on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the 85th Cotton Bowl Classic in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.