Riley hires Ruffin McNeill as defensive assistant

New Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has hired his former boss at East Carolina, Ruffin McNeill, as a defensive assistant.

McNeill, 58, coached at Virginia in 2016. He will work with the defensive tackles at OU. Riley said that Calvin Thibodeaux, the Sooners' defensive line coach in 2016, will focus on defensive ends.

"We're getting an extremely high quality person and coach," Riley said in a statement released by Oklahoma. "Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he'll bring to our program."

McNeill first coached with Riley at Texas Tech under Mike Leach. In 2010. McNeill left the Red Raiders to lead the program at East Carolina, taking Riley with him as offensive coordinator. They worked together for five seasons with the Pirates before Bob Stoops hired Riley as offensive coordinator at OU and ECU fired McNeill, who posted a 42-34 record at the school.

Riley, 33, was promoted at Oklahoma last week after Stoops' surprising retirement. Riley plans to continue to call plays as the head coach, opening a coaching spot on defense.

At Oklahoma, McNeill will coach alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

"Ruffin brings a ton of experience to the defensive side of the ball," Mike Stoops said in the OU statement. "He's very familiar with our league because of his time at Texas Tech, and his knowledge will help us keep expanding what we're doing. I've seen his work from afar and from coaching against him, and I appreciate his work ethic and the way he goes about his business."

Oklahoma struggled at times defensively last year despite winning its final 10 games and becoming the first team in Big 12 history to record a perfect nine-game conference mark. The Sooners ranked 111th nationally and eighth in the 10-team league in allowing nearly 270 passing yards per game.