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When Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to become USC’s head coach, that sent everything into flux for the assistant coaches on staff. Assistant coaches can’t always be in the business of waiting around to see if the new head coach wants to keep them around.
Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh made his intentions to stay clear to OU’s administration, but that’s no guarantee. Ultimately, after Brent Venables was hired and announced as Oklahoma’s next head football coach, Bedenbaugh was asked to stay.
“Yeah, basically right away. I had a pretty good idea that it was going to work out. Didn’t know for sure until I can’t remember what day, Monday maybe. I mean, it’s kind of all a blur. But just came in and said he wanted me to stay. I said, ‘I’m here.’ So, that’s basically how it happened,” Bedenbaugh said.
Going through a head coaching change was something that was foreign to Bedenbaugh’s career and it’s safe to say he’s happy it’s behind him.
“Yeah, glad it’s over with, obviously. It was something that I never thought I’d be dealing with. And I never have. I’ve coached 28 years now, and I’ve never dealt with it. Never been on a staff where somebody got fired or somebody left. I’ve always been in that situation where I could if I wanted to, have the opportunity to decide. And I found out that Sunday. I mean, I did. And it’s a lot of unknowns. You don’t know. You’ve got a family, and that’s the most important thing, and that’s the first thing that goes through your head. And my kids have grown up here. My wife’s from Oklahoma. And then, hell, I may have been forced to—I don’t want to say forced, but may have had to go. That’s what people on the outside don’t realize. Even these guys that left, you know, they didn’t have a choice. You know what I mean? They had to have jobs,” Bedenbaugh said.
Bedenbaugh said he let administration know early on after Riley left that his intention was to stay at Oklahoma if possible.
“And there’s no guarantees. But at some point I had to make a decision if I didn’t know what was going to happen. And it worked out for the best. I love Oklahoma. I love living here. I love everything about this place, and I think it’s special. And no matter what happens, and I’m told people this, and this is true, and it’s just like recruiting, I can’t guarantee anybody anything in this profession. We just saw that two months ago. But hell, I’m going to live in Oklahoma when I retire. I’ve got a house at Grand Lake. That’s where I’m going to live. I’m not from Oklahoma. I’ve said this before: I didn’t play here, but this is my home now. So, just glad it worked out. And it was tough. It was tough on my kids, tough on my family. And everybody’s got to make their own decisions in life. But that’s what a lot of people don’t see on the outside, is your family, what they’re going through. So, it worked out,” Bedenbaugh said.
Before he took over as head coach in early December, Bedenbaugh didn’t know Venables very well outside of having coached against one another several times and a few meetings at coaching conventions or out recruiting. He’s been blown away by the type of person Venables is.
“I think as good of a coach as he is—and this may be a cliché—he’s a better guy. I mean, you can ask our players. What he’s bringing to this program, not even football wise, has nothing to do with football, is as impressive as I’ve been around. And he’s got his priorities and values straight, and I’m learning a lot. I hadn’t been in something like that. I think he got a lot of it from the place that he came from, and it’s really good stuff. I think if you asked our players, it’s really helping them. And obviously our job, like he says and we all know, is to win. But ultimately it’s to develop these kids on and off the field, because football is going to end at some point in time. And most places I’ve been understand that, but he takes it to another level. You know what I mean? And it’s really, really a priority for him, and he makes it a priority for us. So, it’s been great. I think he’s as good as it gets. I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to work with him, work for him. And I think great things are happening, and I think the things that we may have been lacking in the past are going to help us get over the hump. And that’s not talking about anybody. It’s just a different way of doing it,” Bedenbaugh said.
As a byproduct from the continuity of Bedenbaugh sticking around on staff, OU kept its commitments from and eventually signed four-star offensive linemen Jake Taylor and Jacob Sexton in its 2022 signing class. Oklahoma also held onto its commitment from offensive lineman Joshua Bates in the 2023 class. Bedenbaugh will enter his 10th year on staff leading the Sooners’ offensive line when the 2022 college football season kicks off.
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