Bob Stoops, it's like we don't even know you anymore.
According to reports, Oklahoma has given defensive line coach Jackie Shipp and tackles/tight ends coach Bruce Kittle their release. They joined former offensive line coach James Patton among those who have left Stoops' staff in the last two days.
In the past, OU has rarely seen three assistants leave the program in two years, let alone two days. Stoops has eschewed college football's customary revolving door on the sidelines during his 15-year tenure. Whereas some programs cycle through assistants and coordinators as often as Nic Cage makes a movie that you'll never see, Oklahoma has relied on maintaining continuity in its staff and grooming coaches to work up the professional ladder. Typically, when coaches have left, they've moved on of their own volition to make a move up in the food chain.
Yet, the events of the last two days point to some kind of realization on Stoops' part that OU's program needed an overhaul. If somebody had to go, Shipp, Kittle and Patton all made likely candidates.
Kittle and Patton did an admirable job keeping an injury-plagued offensive line together this season. However, the line play has been erratic ever since 2008, as the Sooners have struggled to generate consistency in the running game. Additionally, neither has ever really torn it up on the recruiting trail, and in Kittle's case, his inexperience had to have created concerns among prospective players about the training that they would receive at OU.
But Shipp? That hard to be a hard one for Stoops.
An alum who starred under Barry Switzer in the 1980s, Shipp had been a mainstay of Oklahoma's staff since Stoops became the head coach in 1999. He won more than his fair share of intense recruiting battles in his time and produced a handful of first-round NFL draft picks, including Gerald McCoy and Tommie Harris.
Honestly, though, Shipp's unit was Oklahoma's weak link this season, and the quality of play from the Sooner defensive tackles tailed off dramatically after McCoy left following the 2009 season. Either they weren't developing, or OU didn't have the horses up front. The fact that Shipp lost the recruiting battle for Oklahoma legacy Justin Manning to Texas A&M this year also put a major dent in his already dwindling rep.
Ultimately, why Stoops axed the three assistants is far less important at this point than the mere fact that they did. Something lit a fire under Stoops to shake things up. Given that his career at OU has to be drawing to a close, these three new hires should play a major part in determining if he can go out on a high note.