New Oklahoma Sooners head coach Porter Moser called the Sooners the “perfect fit for him” in his first TV interview since taking over the job.
Moser’s hiring was reported by multiple outlets on Friday and made official on Saturday. Athletic director Joe Castiglione said there would be a press conference next week.
Moser did his first interview as Oklahoma’s head coach with ESPN’s Rece Davis before the first game of the Final Four between Houston and Baylor. Moser was wearing a Sooners quarter-zip during the interview.
Moser replaces Lon Kruger, who retired after the Sooners’ run ended in the NCAA Tournament with a second-round loss to Gonzaga. Moser called Kruger “an icon in the game,” and the culture that Kruger and Castiglione had built at Oklahoma was part of the reason Moser took the job.
“Joe just built this amazing culture of winning the right way, top to bottom, in all sports,” Moser said. “It was that family atmosphere, those winning intangibles, that the whole department has. I know they covet that culture.”
With 10 seasons at Loyola-Chicago and being an Illinois native, Moser was uniquely suited to stay. But, all with 188 wins with the Ramblers and a Final Four appearance, he felt the time was now to make the move to a high major, and the situation at Oklahoma was best for him.
“We’re going to play the same way we did at Loyola,” Moser said. “You want to get winners, tough kids. They have a lot of tough kids in the program. We want winning kids that want to win championships and be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Loyola-Chicago has already moved to take their of their head-coaching position, as the Ramblers promoted Moser’s top assistant, Drew Valentine. And Sister Jean, the Ramblers’ team chaplain and unofficial mascot, won’t be making the trip to Norman. Moser called her a “friend for life” and said he called her right away.
“She is a treasure and we’ll be friends for life,” Moser said. “I think as long as we don’t play each other, I think she’ll root for Oklahoma.”
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Moser has spent his entire head-coaching career in the mid-majors, starting with taking over at Arkansas-Little Rock for the 2000-01 season, as he was promoted off the Trojans’ bench to take over for Sidney Moncrief. With UALR, Moser went 54-34 and won 18 games each season. But something close to his Napierville, Illinois, hometown came calling after the 2000-23 and he took the job at Illinois State.
Moser led the Redbirds for four seasons and finished with a losing record overall, 51-67. Moser lost his job after that 2006-07 season and joined Rick Majerus on the bench at Saint Louis. Moser got a little ‘coaching rehab’ from that four-year stint, and that led to the job at Loyola-Chicago.
The Ramblers were a long way from their 1963 national championship, and Moser methodically built a consistent winner. In 2014-15 he led the Ramblers to 24 wins and a CBI title. In 2017-18 the Ramblers won 32 games, reached the Final Four and Moser, along with the team’s chaplain, Sister Jean, became national figures.
Moser’s final four seasons with the Ramblers featured 99 wins, two NCAA Tournament appearances (including this season’s Sweet 16 run) and an NIT appearance. Moser’s career record is 293-241.
Moser’s job is to stop the departure of talent from the Sooners, though some of it he might not have been able to keep in the wake of Kruger’s departure.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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