NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops wouldn’t address any potential changes to his staff during last week’s signing day news conference.
“How do you speculate that?” Stoops said. “It’s not something that I ever talk about publicly. From year to year, things happen on every staff. We’ll see where it goes.”
Where it’s gone is unprecedented for Stoops. The Sooners’ coach has fired assistants Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle, sources confirmed Tuesday to The Oklahoman. The two departed assistants follow former offensive line coach James Patton — whose exit was announced Monday — out the door.
An OU spokesman declined to comment, and the athletic department hasn’t released any statements to officially confirm the departures of Shipp and Kittle.
Stoops, who just completed his 14th season as OU’s head coach, had never fired an assistant before last January, when secondary coach Willie Martinez was let go.
He’s now fired four in two years; co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell, running backs coach Cale Gundy and defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright are the only assistants who remain from Stoops’ 2011 staff.
Wright and Gundy, meanwhile, are the only assistant coaches from Stoops’ first staff in 1999 who have continuously stayed in Norman; defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was there for his brother’s first five seasons, left to become Arizona’s head coach and returned last January.
According to one source, Kittle — a close, longtime friend of Stoops who coached tight ends and offensive tackles the past two seasons — could stay with OU in another, off-the-field capacity.
Kittle’s road to college football coaching was a unique one; he worked as an attorney, a law professor and minister before Stoops hired him as on-campus recruiting coordinator in 2010.
Shipp has coached the defensive line at Oklahoma since 1999. He’s also a former Sooners linebacker, playing on coach Barry Switzer’s squads in the early 1980s and racking up 489 total tackles — good for second all-time in school history.
“He recruited Oklahoma; he helped a little bit with my recruiting out of high school,” said former OU fullback J.D. Runnels, who played high school football at Carl Albert.
“He was one of the coaches I got close to. They kind of wrap their arms around the Oklahoma guys. That’s the tough part to me. These kids lose a Sooner. It’s more than just a coach in that instance.”