NORMAN — Past, present and future Oklahoma offensive linemen expressed disappointment after Monday’s announcement that position coach James Patton accepted a new position at Indiana.<h3 class="bar color">Multimedia
“I had no clue at all,” said Trinity Valley Community College tackle Josiah St. John, who was recruited by Patton and signed with the Sooners last week.
“It was disappointing. It really upset me. ... I was really looking forward to playing for him.”
Much of the early speculation regarding Patton’s replacement has centered around former Kansas coach Mark Mangino — OU’s offensive coordinator during its 2000 national-title run — although his return to Norman seems unlikely.
West Virginia offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh emerged Monday as a frontrunner for OU’s open position, according to a SoonerScoop.com report. Bedenbaugh coached several seasons under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and spent four years as an Arizona assistant on Mike Stoops’ staff.
Bedenbaugh’s reputation as a strong recruiter bolsters his candidacy; St. John was one of only three offensive line signees in Oklahoma’s 2013 recruiting class, despite OU coaches issuing more than 10 times as many scholarship offers to lineman prospects.
Christian Daimler, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound tackle from Houston, was the only 2013 high-school offensive lineman the Sooners signed.
“Our contact had kinda slowed down, so I kinda figured something was gonna happen,” Daimler said Monday. “I just didn’t know when.” Daimler said Patton direct messaged him on Twitter to deliver the news Monday morning.
“He wished me the best of luck, and told me he thinks I can be a great player at OU,” Daimler said.
Patton was the coach who offered Daimler his OU scholarship, and the two developed a close bond over the recruiting process.
“I’ve known him for quite a while now,” Daimler said. “He was honest with me all the time. He was the one who offered me, so we had a good connection. It’s gonna be weird not playing for him, but I definitely wish him the best of luck.
“You kinda have to go into this whole thing with an open mind, and know that I’m committed to Oklahoma, not Coach Patton. That’s something my coach in high school told me, just, ‘Don’t get too attracted to a single coach, because you don’t know how long they’re gonna be there.’”
Oklahoma’s offensive line labored through a difficult 2012 season, during which several linemen were injured and missed games. Two senior starters — Ben Habern and Tyler Evans — were lost for the season before it began, and starting guards Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead fought through various injuries throughout the year.
Still, the OU line performed admirably for the most part, considering its attrition. After allowing six sacks in OU’s first two games, opponents recorded just nine through Oklahoma’s final 11 contests.
Some current Oklahoma linemen took to Twitter on Monday morning to express their appreciation for Patton.
“Going to miss Coach Patton and I wish him the best of luck,” tweeted Irwin.
Senior center/guard Gabe Ikard tweeted, “Coach Patton is my favorite coach I’ve had. Taught me a lot about football and a lot about life. Really going to miss him.”
Patton first joined Oklahoma’s staff in 2006, and coached the entire offensive line for his first five seasons in Norman. Beginning last season, Bruce Kittle took over coaching tackles.
“If you messed up, he made sure you understood what you did wrong, and he was able to help correct the mistake you made,” said Eric Mensik, a first-team All-Big 12 tackle in 2010.
Mensik began his OU career as a tight end, but switched positions and credits Patton for his success.
“I went from being a 260 tight end to be a 310-pound lineman,” Mensik said.
Here is the reason he might not go to OU
Current position: West Virginia offensive line coach
Why it could happen: Bedenbaugh's reputation as an outstanding recruiter is likely a major factor in his candidacy, which was first reported by SoonerScoop.com. He's got lots of experience in spread offenses; Bedenbaugh spent six seasons as a Mike Leach assistant at Texas Tech, and the last two on Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia staff. He also worked under Mike Stoops at Arizona for four seasons.
Why it might not happen: Bedenbaugh and Holgorsen are close; they were Iowa Wesleyan teammates in the early 1990s, and coached together on Leach's Texas Tech staff. Bedenbaugh also received a sizable raise — to a reported $300,000 a year, according to a Charleston Gazette report — within the last month.
An offer to coach elsewhere.
Reports out of Oklahoma indicate that Bedenbaugh, 40, will become the new offensive line coach at Oklahoma. Nothing official has been announced.
Oklahoma lost its offensive line coach Monday when James Patton moved to Indiana to coach under former Oklahoma assistant Kevin Wilson. Within hours Bedenbaugh's name surfaced as a potential replacement.
The move would not be surprising. Bedenbaugh spent four years at Arizona on the staff of Mike Stoops, who is now the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma under his brother, head coach Bob Stoops. Bedenbaugh has spent most of his 18-year coaching career in the Southwest, spending seven years at Texas Tech before his move to Arizona. His wife is also from Oklahoma.
Bedenbaugh would be the fourth of West Virginia's nine assistant coaches from last season to either leave or be fired. Quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital took a similar job at Texas A&M, while defensive coaches Daron Roberts and Steve Dunlap were let go.
Bedenbaugh last week was named one of the nation's top 50 recruiters by 247Sports just after national signing day. That was shortly after a raise in his salary took effect, pushing him from $250,000 annually to $300,000.
Who do we get to take over for Bedenbaugh?I am not 100% convince that he is gone just yet. I have a feeling that OL and DH are working in the background to try and keep him. The fact that nothing "Official" has been announced by WVU or Oklahoma or anything other than Dave Hickman and Soonernation.com gives me some hope.
Just off the phone with Oliver Luck. Said as of last night WVU OL coach Bedenbaugh hadn't talked to Okla. All could change in a call,