NORMAN — Among the 25 college football teams ranked in the final 2012-13 coaches' poll, only Oklahoma and Stanford split offensive-line coaching duties between two assistants.
Bill Bedenbaugh's hiring signals the end to OU's two-year experiment of having its offensive line divvied up between James Patton and Bruce Kittle, who were both fired last week.
“(Bedenbaugh) is gonna coach all five guys,” said tackle Christian Daimler, the only high-school offensive lineman Oklahoma signed in its 2013 recruiting class.
“I think getting to work as an entire offensive line every single day will show out on the field.”
Although Oklahoma hasn't released any statements confirming it, Bedenbaugh — West Virginia's offensive line coach the past two years — officially begins his new job Monday, sources told The Oklahoman.
OU coaches told current and incoming linemen Bedenbaugh had been hired; WVU athletic director Oliver Luck confirmed the move last week to the Charleston Gazette; and OU running backs coach Cale Gundy spoke openly about him in a Friday radio interview.
Bob Stoops became Oklahoma's head coach in 1999; for the first 11 seasons, he made one assistant coach responsible for the offensive line as a whole. James Patton held that position from 2006 through 2010, which was then-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson's final season before becoming Indiana's head coach.
After Wilson left, Stoops named Bruce Kittle — then Oklahoma's on-campus recruiting coordinator — his new offensive tackles and tight ends coach, and limited Patton's responsibilities to interior linemen.
“This is the best way to manage our personnel,” Stoops said when he announced the moves. “It changes our coach-to-player ratio and I am excited about that.”
But Oklahoma hasn't shown significant improvement — in terms of production or recruiting — on its offensive line. OU ranked 50th nationally in rushing offense in 2011, and 60th last season.
Several significant injuries severely limited the 2012 Oklahoma line, but it often performed better than expected considering its attrition. Tackle Lane Johnson went from preseason backup to being a probable top-15 pick in April's NFL Draft.
Still, despite offering dozens of 2013 offensive-line prospects scholarships, Patton and Kittle landed just three: Daimler, and junior-college transfers Josiah St. John and Dionte Savage.
Bedenbaugh, on the other hand, brings his strong recruiting reputation to Norman. He was named one of the nation's top-50 recruiters earlier this month by 247Sports.com, and was responsible for many of West Virginia's top 2013 signees, like receiver Shelton Gibson, a four-star prospect from Cleveland.
“He's a really good recruiter,” said Mitch Vingle, sports editor of the Charleston Gazette. “People here were really hoping he'd stay because he did such a good job with this recruiting class.”
Throughout the recruiting process, Daimler developed close relationships with both Patton and Kittle, and admitted he “wasn't too happy” when he found out they wouldn't be his coaches.
But Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel called Daimler late last week to tell him about Bedenbaugh, and Daimler said he's eager to work with him.
“They've told me he's a huge technician,” Daimler said. “He's just hard-nosed, and he's gonna keep working you until you do it right.
“He's gonna get my full potential out of me.”