Now that Lincoln Riley has bolted to take over the USC football program, Joe Castiglione will have to make a hire soon for Riley’s replacement as the next Sooners skipper. Castiglione has been known for making good coaching hires at the University of Oklahoma, so Joe, here’s my two cents.
Get another defensive guru like you did when you hired Bob Stoops 22 years ago. In Stoops’ second year, Oklahoma had some rugged defenses for several years—numerous All-Americans and major defensive award winners.
Riley came to Oklahoma as an offensive genius, but his Sooners often struggled on defense, and a tough defense wins games. OU never had a top 25 defense in Riley’s five years in Norman.
Riley’s offensive brilliance brought in numerous 5-stars to play for the Sooners. Not very many 5-star recruits on the other side of the line of scrimmage. A defensive coach will be able to recruit studs on defense.
So, I believe it would be a good idea to hire a defensive coordinator, not a current head coach. The Sooners have had success at hiring assistant coaches—Bud Wilkinson, Jim Mackenzie, Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer, Stoops, and Riley.
One assistant, who stands out, has coached the best defenses the last three years. He had one of the best defenses his first year, dropped off some in 2020, but rebounded to have the top defense this year. He has coached 36 games in three seasons, and his defenses have allowed just 12.75 points and 272.9 yards per game. That breaks down to an average of 75.4 rushing yards and 197.5 passing yards. His defenses have yielded 4.25 yards per play during his three-year career.
I mean, this guy is so good, he’s twice been named a Broyles Award finalist—2019 and again this year.
I guess by now you know whom I’m talking about, Joe: Dan Lanning, the Georgia Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator.
There has been plenty of rumors starting to circulate that Lanning is someone the Sooners are taking a serious look at and it makes complete sense.
Originally from North Kansas City, Missouri, Lanning worked up through the coaching ranks from Park Hill South high school in Kansas City, Missouri for two years prior to getting his first college graduate assistants job with Pittsburgh. He then went to coach defensive backs at Sam Houston State before heading to Alabama in 2015 for a season.
Lanning has spent the last three seasons under Kirby Smart and has led the Bulldogs to allowing a ridiculous 6.9 points per game.
So while Lincoln Riley was all about the offense, it’s time to turn the page, look to the next rising star in the sport, and bring that menacing defense back to Norman, led by Dan Lanning.