When all things are equal on the offensive and defensive sides of the football, often the difference can be found on special teams or on the sidelines.
Especially in college football where development is the difference in recruiting class success, coaching can make all the difference. The Oklahoma Sooners have been fortunate to have some of the best coaches to grace the sidelines of college football.
Four former head coaches (with lengthy tenures) are in the college football hall of fame. And several more had huge impacts on the great teams of the past.
Check out our other College Wire all-time lineups: Alabama / Arkansas / Auburn / Clemson / Colorado / Florida / Georgia / Iowa / LSU / Michigan / Nebraska / North Carolina / Ohio State / Oregon / Penn State / Rutgers / Tennessee / Texas / Texas A&M / USC / Wisconsin
Kicker Starter: Michael Hunnicut
Oct 15, 2011; Lawrence, KS, USA; Oklahoma Sooners place kicker Michael Hunnicutt (18) kicks a 36-yard field goal against Kansas Jayhawks during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Hunnicutt holds the Oklahoma record for field goals made in a career and is the most accurate kicker in Oklahoma History, converting 84.3% of his field goal attempts.
Kicker Backup: Austin Seibert
April 9, 2016; Norman; Oklahoma Sooners kicker Austin Seibert (43) attempts a field goal during the first half of the spring game at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
This spot could have gone to several players, but Austin Seibert gets the nod for pulling double duty as a placekicker and punter. Seibert’s second all-time in field goals made and sixth all-time in field goal percentage.
As a punter, Seibert is fourth all-time in Oklahoma history in punting yards and seventh in punt average.
Seibert was the Big 12’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2018 and a first-team all-conference selection. He holds the record for points scored at Oklahoma and is fourth all-time in NCAA history with 498.
Punter Starter: Tress Way
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Tress Way’s career average of 44 yards per punt is second in Oklahoma history only to Michael Turk. Heading into 2022, Turk’s only attempted 35 punts. Way punted the ball 250 times during his Oklahoma career. Way owns the Oklahoma record for punts of more than 50 yards and placed 91 punts inside the 20-yard line during his career.
Punter Backup: Jeff Ferguson
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Punting may not be the most revered position on a football team, but a great punter can make all the difference for a great defense. Jeff Ferguson was the first punter of the Bob Stoops era, helping flip field position and put opponents on their heels for those stellar defenses in the early 2000s. Ferguson is second all-time in punt yards and behind only Turk and Way in punt average. He’s the only Oklahoma punter to earn All-American honors.
Returner Starter: Antonio Perkins
NORMAN, OK – NOVEMBER 15: Antonio Perkins #28 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs back a punt and nearly scores against the Baylor Bears just before the end of the first quarter November 15, 2003 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners won 41-3 to stay undefeated at 10-0. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Antonio Perkins is tied for second all-time in punt returns for a touchdown. He is the only return specialist for the Oklahoma Sooners to be recognized as an All-American. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2003.
Returner Backup: Jack Mitchell
While garnering more recognition for his work as a quarterback in Bud Wilkinson’s Wing-T offense, Jack Mitchell is the NCAA record holder for yards per punt return at 23.6. During his career in the late 1940s, Mitchell returned seven punts for touchdowns and is tied for third all-time.
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
AP Photo/Mark Foley, File
This was as difficult a decision as there was to make when constructing the Oklahoma Sooners’ all-time rosters. While Bud Wilkinson and Bob Stoops each have an argument to be the head coach, we’ll go with the guy with the higher winning percentage in Oklahoma history and three national championships.
Offensive Coordinator: Lincoln Riley
Dec 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley celebrates with quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) after the game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The way he departed Oklahoma left a lot to be desired, but that shouldn’t stop us from remembering the good things he did while with the Oklahoma Sooners. From 2015 to 2021, Riley’s offenses never finished worse than eighth in the nation in points per game.
In 2018, the Oklahoma Sooners led the nation in scoring at 48.4 points per game. 2021 was the only season in which his offense averaged fewer than 40 points per game, averaging 39.1 points per game.
Riley’s offenses helped produce two Heisman trophy winners and three finalists for the award.
Again, his departure left a lot to be desired, but those seven years with Riley calling the offense were a lot of fun (mostly).
Defensive Coordinator: Gary Gibbs
RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Gibbs was the defensive coordinator for the 1985 national championship team. That year, he helped OU finish second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 8.6 points per game. From 1985 to 1987, the Sooners allowed 8.03 points per game.
Assistant Coach 1: Bud Wilkinson
Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson, center, kneeling, is seen with three of his squad, Dick Bowman, left, Kurt Burris, right, and Darlon Hearon, Dec. 26, 1953, in Miami. (AP Photo)
With three national championships and an offense that gave teams fits, Bud Wilkinson has to be on this staff somewhere. He was the backfield coach under Jim Tatum in 1946 before taking over as head coach in 1947.
Assistant Coach 2: Bob Stoops
Dec 29, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Incoming Oklahoma Sooners coach Brent Venables and interim head coach Bob Stoops celebrate on the podium after the Sooners victory over the Oregon Ducks in the 2021 Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Though he never called the defense for the Oklahoma Sooners, what got him the job was his defensive prowess while with Kansas State and the Florida Gators. After the Gators gave up 20 points per game in 1995 and allowed Nebraska to score 62 points in the 1996 Sugar Bowl, Stoops was hired and immediately made a difference. In 1996, the Gators allowed 17 points per game on their way to a Sugar Bowl win over Florida State and a national championship.
Assistant Coach 2: Mark Mangino
Nov 10, 2007; Stillwater, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Mark Mangino instructs his players against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, OK. Kansas won the game 43-28. John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
After Mike Leach brought the air-raid offense to OU for his lone season in 1999, Mark Mangino took over and led Josh Heupel and the Sooners to a national championship in 2000. That year, Oklahoma averaged 37 points per game, and likely would have been higher if not for Heupel’s arm injury that limited him down the stretch. Still Heupel and Mangino found a way to make it work on their way to the national title.
Assistant Coach 4: Brent Venables
(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Joining the Sooners in 1999 as co-defensive coordinator, Brent Venables helped turn the Sooners’ defense into a powerhouse. Five times during his tenure, the Oklahoma Sooners finished top 10 in the nation in scoring defense. As linebackers coach, he helped Rocky Calmus and Teddy Lehman win Butkus Awards and coached other greats like Curtis Lofton and Rufus Alexander.
Now back as head coach, Venables has reignited a program and fan base eager for a return to national title contender status.
Assistant Coach 5: Jerry Schmidt
Strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt watches during the University of Oklahoma Sooners football Pro Day inside the Everest Training Center in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Absolutely revered for his efforts in the strength and conditioning program for Oklahoma, Jerry Schmidt is a living legend amongst current and former players.
“I ran up the ramp and then I went to Spanish class. I almost thought, my soul left my body, and then I went to Spanish!” –@chesterchris66 on running ramps at the stadium for Jerry Schmidt. Here it all on the 1st episode of “The Player’s Lounge”
🎧 https://t.co/H5obqh9yBQ pic.twitter.com/ZSAhs83kTZ
— Locked on Sooners (@LockedOnSooners) January 29, 2021