NORMAN — Bill Bedenbaugh met with West Virginia’s offensive linemen in early 2011, shortly after he became their position coach.
“He told us, ‘Every job’s open,’” former Mountaineers guard Tyler Rader said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman.
“He’s big on technique, but he also likes tough, gritty guys. ... Right away, he shook things up.”
Oklahoma hopes Bedenbaugh can yield similar results in Norman; he accepted an offer Thursday to join Bob Stoops’ staff, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck told the Charleston Gazette.
Bedenbaugh, who has spent the last two seasons at West Virginia, has been rumored as Stoops’ top choice since Monday, when James Patton accepted a position with Indiana.
Patton, who coached interior linemen, and Bruce Kittle, who coached tackles and tight ends, were each let go this week, along with longtime defensive line coach Jackie Shipp.
In Wednesday’s statement confirming the departures of Shipp and Kittle, Bob Stoops said he hadn’t interviewed any potential candidates to fill his staff openings.
“I anticipate speaking with several candidates that I have identified for our coaching staff, but I have yet to interview any of those individuals,” Stoops said in the statement. “I will continue to evaluate all of our options.”
When Bedenbaugh arrived in Morgantown two years ago, Rader was entering his senior season. He’d started his college career at offensive guard, then became a tight end/fullback before shifting back to the line.
Rader appeared in only three games as a junior.
As a senior under Bedenbaugh, though, Rader started 12 games for the Orange Bowl-champion Mountaineers.
“He saw my toughness and that I wanted to get better,” Rader said. “And the way he coached, he built my confidence up.”
Bedenbaugh, 40, spent seven seasons under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, then did a four-year stint at Arizona under current OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops before arriving in West Virginia.
With nine total seasons on Leach- and Holgorsen-led staffs, Bedenbaugh possesses intricate knowledge of the spread offense.
But that stems not from those years alone; he coached Texas Tech running backs one season, and also spent time working with slot receivers, Rader said.
“He knows the entire system,” Rader said.
Bedenbaugh, too, has developed a reputation as an outstanding recruiter, responsible for handling many of the Mountaineers’ top prospects at all positions. He was named one of the nation’s top 50 recruiters by 247Sports.com just after last week’s national signing day.
Bedenbaugh has Oklahoma ties; in 1995, he began his college coaching career at Panhandle State in Goodwell, and his wife, Marydee, is an Oklahoma State graduate. Her parents still live in Tahlequah.
At Oklahoma, Bedenbaugh inherits a line that labored through several devastating injuries in 2012. Two senior starters — Ben Habern and Tyler Evans — were lost for the season before it began. Young, promising reserve guard Nila Kasitati tore his ACL in the Sooners’ fourth game of the season, a win at Texas Tech.
On top of all that, starting guards Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead fought through various injuries all season.
Next season, the Sooner line returns lots of experience. Evans received a medical redshirt to return for one more season.
Irwin, Shead and starting center Gabe Ikard will return as well, along with experienced tackles Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams.
Before his first season at West Virginia, the Times West Virginian asked Bedenbaugh what kind of offensive line he hoped to create.
“Mean, nasty,” Bedenbaugh responded. “That’s the biggest thing.
“If you’re a tough kid you can overcome a bunch of weaknesses you have in this game — not being as good of an athlete, not being as good technically. If you’re tough, you can overcome that. That’s what I expect these guys to be.”