OU football: Kittle hiring a little suspect
Bob Stoops filled out his staff last week by promoting Bruce Kittle from on-campus recruiting coordinator to assistant coach. Kittle will coach tight ends and offensive tackles.
It’s an interesting choice by Stoops. In many ways, a gamble. Few major-college assistants, much less one at a program like Oklahoma, have as little of coaching experience as Kittle.
Kittle’s coaching experience consists of three or four years as a graduate assistant at Iowa in the 1980s, several years coaching his son in youth football and two years as an assistant on his son’s high school team in Iowa.
That’s a stunning lack of football experience for somebody 50 years old, hired to a serious college football staff.
Kittle and Stoops were teammates at Iowa (Kittle was co-captain of the Hawkeyes’ 1981 Rose Bowl team). Teammates and great friends; they were in each other’s weddings.
Kittle called Stoops a year ago and asked his old pal to recommend him for any college assistant jobs, any level, that might come around. Stoops in March hired Kittle as on-campus recruiting coordinator.
Now, make no mistake, Kittle’s resume’ is not void of merit. He has a fascinating story. My pal Jenni Carlson introduced OU fans to Kittle with her Thanksgiving Day column. You can read it here.
Without that profile of Kittle, OU fans today would be saying, “Huh? Who?”
But Kittle’s life experience is varied and vast. He has a law degree and has worked for large corporate law firms in Iowa and Wisconsin. He entered seminary and became a minister in the United Church of Christ. He has been a University of Wisconsin law professor. Kittle eventually became the director of the restorative justice program at Wisconsin and oversaw hundreds of mediations.
Seems like that mediator stuff could come in handy on a college football team. And indeed, OU players have spoken of Kittle’s personality as a force around the football office, a positive, inspiring presence. If nothing else, Kittle sounds like he could be a whiz-bang recruiter.
And frankly, a tight end/tackle coach doesn’t have to be the greatest football tactician in the world. During team drills, the tackles also will be under the direction of O-line coach James Patton (who has tutored the tackles for several years anyway), and the tight ends can be overseen by receivers coach Jay Norvell.
So it’s not like Stoops hired an offensive coordinator who 15 minutes ago was coaching Cedar Falls High School.
But still. I hear from some readers who accuse Stoops of cronyism. That his staffs are too full of old friends from his Iowa or Kansas State days. I don’t buy it. The Mike Stoopses and Chuck Longs and Brent Venables and Jay Norvells and Jonathan Hayeses and Mark Manginos have shown to be excellent coaches, and OU football has thrived under Stoops and his so-called cronies. It’s not a valid criticism.
But Bruce Kittle’s lack of football experience renews the crony claim. Stoops has the right to hire whoever he wants, and his results say he should be trusted. But this is one interesting hire.
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