By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — James Patton will not return as Oklahoma’s centers and guards coach, ending his seven-year tenure on the Sooner coaching staff.
It was announced Monday that Patton has accepted the recruiting coordinator, special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach at Indiana. The move will reunite Patton with former OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who is the Hoosiers’ head coach.
“Our family has enjoyed a tremendous experience at the University of Oklahoma,” Patton said in statement late Monday morning. “It has truly been a pleasure to work with Joe Castiglione, coach Stoops and the entire football staff, as well as the many talented student-athletes that I was privileged to coach at OU. I’m excited about this new challenge at Indiana, and am extremely grateful for being afforded a chance to work with Oklahoma Football the past seven years.”
Last week, OU coach Bob Stoops declined to comment when asked if staff changes were on the way. Monday, he offered his own statement.
“We appreciate the contributions that James made to our program over the past seven seasons,” Stoops said. “He was a valued member of a staff that helped us win five Big 12 championships. We wish James and his family the best in this opportunity with Kevin Wilson at Indiana.”
Whether Patton left on his own or was forced out is unclear, but he became the third assistant to leave OU in the last 13 months for something other than a head coaching job.
Patton received two coordinator titles from Indiana. Former defensive coordinator Brent Venables chose to leave for the same job at Clemson and former secondary coach Willie Martinez was forced out to make way for Mike Stoops’ return as defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
Patton joined OU’s coaching staff prior to the 2006 season. His hiring was part of the transition as Wilson was promoted to offensive coordinator. Patton, who was hired to replace Wilson as offensive line coach, had worked on the coaching staff with Wilson at Miami (Ohio) and Northwestern.
Wilson became Indiana’s head coach following the 2010 regular season. Patton, in effect, became OU’s co-offensive line coach in 2011. His duties were reduced to centers and guards, while Bruce Kittle was brought in to handle tackles and tight ends.
Despite preseason injuries that ended the career of center Ben Habern and starting guard Tyler Evans, OU still finished the year ranked fifth in the nation in passing offense (336.5 ypg) and 12th in total offense (497.9 ypg).
At OU, Patton coached two All-Americans — Trent Williams (2009) and Duke Robinson (2007-08) and six offensive linemen named to the All-Big 12 team.
One person who’s been rumored as Patton replacement is former OU assistant and Kansas coach Mark Mangino. He was Bob Stoops’ original offensive line coach in 1999 and served as offensive coordinator for two seasons beginning in 2000. Mangino left to become Kansas head coach after the 2001 season.
Mangino’s tenure at KU ended in 2009 amid multiple reports of verbal abuse or inappropriate physical contact with players. He has not coached since.
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