OU football: In addition to Bob Stoops, a look at some other potential substitute coaches for Sooners
NORMAN — While Bob Stoops may be the biggest addition to OU’s coaching staff this week as it hopes to get in Saturday’s home finale against Baylor, Lincoln Riley’s staff might have even more different faces this week.
“We have some good opportunities,” Riley said Tuesday when asked if he was able to bring in additional help from elsewhere on the staff, moments before he dropped the news Stoops was helping out this week. “There are some good options.”
While Riley wouldn’t give specifics, outside of saying he had not tested positive for COVID-19 or been caught up in contact tracing that could keep him away from the game, he said the coaching staff had been affected.
“It’s affected all parts of our program,” Riley said.
The pool of coaches who could fill in for missing coaches is limited, as the fill-ins must already be affiliated with the athletic department in some capacity. That’s what allowed Stoops, who serves as a special assistant to athletic director Joe Castiglione, to return.
Here’s a look some of the analysts and graduate assistants who could be pressed into greater duty this weekend, with some familiar faces and some other more obscure ones:
Ty Darlington, offensive graduate assistant
Darlington was a Sooners’ center from 2012-15, starting 26 games in his career and winning the Campbell Trophy and Wuerffel Trophy as a senior. Both awards are given for a combination of academic, athletic and community service success. Darlington spent the previous two seasons as an offensive analyst at OU before moving into the GA role.
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Ryan Dougherty, special teams analyst
The former East Carolina punter was a part of Ruffin McNeill’s staff at East Carolina for the entire time Lincoln Riley was there with McNeill. Dougherty was a special teams assistant and then a special teams and offensive graduate assistant for the Pirates before spending the 2015-16 seasons as Lehigh’s special teams coordinator and offensive assistant. He joined Riley’s staff in 2017.
Parker Henry, defensive graduate assistant
Henry was a walk-on defensive back/linebacker who became a starter for Alex Grinch’s defenses at Washington State in the 2015-16 seasons. Henry coached linebackers at running backs at his alma mater, Skyview High in Vancouver, Washington, in 2017 before spending a year as Portland State’s inside linebackers coach and then joining the Sooners as a graduate assistant after Grinch’s hiring. Sooners’ inside linebacker coach Brian Odom was a defensive quality control assistant for the Cougars in Henry’s last two years there.
Will Johnson, defensive graduate assistant
Johnson started 17 games at safety and nickelback for the Sooners from 2015-17, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention honors as a senior. Johnson was a volunteer analyst for the Sooners last season before becoming a graduate assistant in 2020.
Conner McQueen, offensive analyst
McQueen was a walk-on quarterback at Texas A&M who eventually earned a scholarship, primarily serving as a holder on placekicks from 2013-16 after redshirting during Johnny Manziel’s Heisman season of 2012. McQueen’s father, Mark, played for Texas A&M in the early 1980s. His grandfather, Bob McQueen, played for Tulsa and coached Temple (Texas) High, his alma mater, to a pair of state championships and was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. Conner McQueen spent the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at UCLA after a season as an offensive analyst at Texas A&M in 2017.
Chip Viney, recruiting analyst
During his first tenure with the Sooners, from 2013-16 as a graduate assistant and then a special teams specialist, Viney developed a reputation as a strong recruiter even though he wasn’t able to go off campus to recruit. After a season as Jay Norvell’s cornerbacks coach at Nevada in 2017, the former UCLA and New Mexico State defensive back returned as a recruiting analyst for the Sooners.
Austin Woods, defensive analyst
Woods played for the Sooners from 2010-13, mainly seeing action as a deep snapper. He battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma during his time at OU as a player, including going through chemotherapy in-season in 2012. Woods has been an analyst for the Sooners since 2014, spending the first five seasons on the offensive side before moving to the defensive side in 2019.
Erick Wren, offensive graduate assistant
Another former center among the group, Wren was a walk-on for the Sooners who became a starter in 2016, earning a scholarship. The next year, Wren earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. Wren spent last season as a graduate assistant for Texas A&M-Commerce before joining Riley’s staff.
Ryan Aber covers OU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ryaber. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.