Oklahoma ended the 2013 season with a thumping of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and launched into the 2014 season as one of the favorites to make the first-ever College Football Playoff. It didn't work out.
Instead, the Sooners stumbled to an 8-5 record. As is often the case for a big-time team suffering through an unpleasant campaign and a longtime head coach trying to avoid the hot seat, this offseason has meant staff changes.
The following illustrates just how busy Bob Stoops has been over the last couple of months.
Dec. 29: Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6
Let's start at the very beginning. While the total yardage disparity wasn't too out of hand -- Clemson 387, Oklahoma 285 -- the Sooners turned the ball over five times and converted just two of 12 third-down attempts. Only a garbage-time touchdown prevented the shutout. Oklahoma's offense was not good.
Jan. 4: Co-OC Jay Norvell fired
And when the offense is not good, the offensive coaching staff tends to suffer. Norvell had been with Oklahoma since 2008, serving as co-offensive coordinator since 2010. The Sooners offense wasn't bottom-of-the-barrel in 2014, ranking fifth in the Big 12 in yards per game and third in scoring average, but too many turnovers and not enough third-down conversions -- hey, just like in the Clemson game! -- slowed it down.
Norvell landed as the receivers coach at Texas.
Jan. 6: OC Josh Heupel fired
From Crimson & Cream Machine, SB Nation's OU blog:
The Oklahoma offense had become pass happy and predictable under Heupel and just like Norvell's lack of development with the receivers, Heupel wasn't producing either. Oklahoma's offense completely disappeared three times in 2014 resulting in blowout losses to Baylor and Clemson and a disappointing overtime loss to Oklahoma State.
Heupel led Oklahoma to a national title as a player, had been on the staff since 2006 and was offensive coordinator since 2010. When a guy like that gets canned, things have obviously gone downhill.
Heupel hired to take over the offense at Utah State.
Montgomery served as defensive line coach in 2013 and 2014, and the Sooners piled up 65 sacks and 153 tackles for loss during that time. They finished second among Big 12 teams in run defense two seasons ago and led the conference last year. He was also considered one of the Big 12's best recruiters.
The promotion alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was a reward for a job well done. And even Stoops was rumored to possibly leave Norman.
Jan. 12: DB coach Bobby Jack Wright retires
The Sooners assistant had been on Stoops' staff since the head coach arrived in Norman in 1999. He recruited hard in the state of Texas and helped bring in much of the talent that returned Oklahoma to power after a down decade in the 1990s. Wright's secondary slipped in 2014, ranking ninth in the 10-team Big 12 by allowing 276.2 passing yards per game.
Jan. 12: Lincoln Riley hired as OC
Stoops' search for a new offensive coordinator lasted a little less than a week. Riley, a 31-year-old Texas Tech alum, previously led the offense at East Carolina from 2010 to 2014. During that stretch, the Pirates ranked in the top 25 in scoring offense three times, topping out at No. 8 (40.2 points per game) in 2013.
SB Nation presents: Our latest mock for the 2015 NFL Draft
Feb. 4: Kerry Cooks hired as DB coach
Replacing Wright was Cooks, who agreed to join the Oklahoma Staff after holding the same position at Notre Dame from 2010 through 2014. The move brought another strong Texas recruiter to Norman: Cooks recruited seven players from the Lone Star State during his time at Notre Dame, and he was named one of the top-25 recruiters in the nation by 247Sports in 2011.
When Norvell received his walking papers, it opened up the position for a receivers coach at Oklahoma. The Sooners poached him from Washington State, a move that stung for Cougars fans.
Mark Sandritter of SBNation's The Coug Center stated, "Losing Simmons would be a major blow for WSU. He's a tremendous recruiter in Southern California, an area WSU hits hard, and a fine wide receivers coach. A look at the work he's done with WSU's outside receivers shows just how good Simmons is. He helped mold Vince Mayle into a legitimate top NFL prospect while Isiah Myers developed tremendously under Simmons' tutelage. Others have also improved significantly with WSU going from a "catch and fall" team as Simmons once called them to one of the most -- if not the most -- productive receiving corps in the country."
The new hirings weren't the only changes, as Stoops also switched around responsibilities elsewhere, some of them dictated by the likely shift back to the air raid offense. Of all nine assistants, only offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has the same job title as last year.
While there appear to be upgrades, C&CM isn't totally convinced.
Is this staff arrangement really an upgrade over last years staff? In some ways I believe that it is. In other ways, I feel it leaves more questions than answers. For Bob Stoops sake it better bring the right answers.
Back to work, Bob!