After a one-year stay with the Virginia football program, assistant head coach Ruffin McNeill has accepted another job. Oklahoma announced McNeill joined the Sooners in the same assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach role.
Cavalier coach Bronco Mendenhall brought McNeill to Charlottesville as part of his first staff at UVA and he clearly still respects the former East Carolina head coach as he heads west. He posted the following thoughts in a series of Tweets:
“Ruffin McNeill is one of the best people, not only in the world of coaching, but also in the world, period. I’ve really enjoyed Ruffin’s friendship, the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that we’ve had together. Ruff has amazing relationships with anyone he’s met. He’s got a great football mind. I am appreciative of all the work he put in helping us to begin to make UVA an excellent football program. Good luck at OU Coach Ruff.”
In taking the new job at Oklahoma, McNeill will be reunited with a former assistant from his ECU staff. McNeill hired Lincoln Riley as his offensive coordinator with the Pirates before he moved on to OU himself in 2015. Last week, long-time Sooners coach Bob Stoops retired from his position and the school elevated Riley to the head coaching role.
With a spot to fill on his staff, Riley returned the favor of hiring McNeill. The two also worked together previously at Texas Tech. He echoed Mendenhall’s thoughts on McNeill in an official news release.
“I’m very excited that Ruffin McNeill is joining our coaching staff,” Riley said. “Personally, I have a great history with him from our time together at Texas Tech and East Carolina. We’re getting an extremely high-quality person and coach. Our team and fans will love the personality and energy he’ll bring to our program. Ruffin possesses a distinguished record defensively, and I’m excited to see him work alongside defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and the rest of our staff on that side of the ball. I view the defensive line as one of the most important – if not the most important – position groups on the field, and he’ll be a big benefit to our student-athletes and to our program as a whole.”
A college coaching veteran of 30 years, McNeill began that journey as a graduate assistant at Clemson in 1985. He made numerous stops at places like Austin Peay, Appalachain State, UNLV, and Texas Tech before he took the head coaching job at his alma mater East Carolina.
When the Pirates unexpectedly let McNeill go after the 2015 season, the Cavaliers touched base and eventually hired him to the staff. McNeill worked with current UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae at Texas Tech.