Bill Bedenbaugh wants toughness on line

NORMAN, Okla. -- In his first interview with reporters since accepting the Oklahoma offensive line coaching job, Bill Bedenbaugh used the word “toughness” more than any other Wednesday.

“My mentality is about toughness,” he said. “Developing a mentality of toughness that making a mistake isn’t OK. To being accountable to everyone on the offensive line and the offense, and doing your job to the best of your ability.

“I’m big on fundamentals, I’m big on technique. But I think if you’re a tough person, tough-minded, physical tough, you can overcome some of those things. Your toughness overrides that a lot of time.”

Bedenabugh, who arrived in Norman on Saturday, has spent most of his time watching film since accepting the job. Coach Bob Stoops brought Bedenbaugh in to instill more toughness on an offensive line that’s been great protecting the passer, but suspect running the ball against stout defenses.

“Obviously they want to run improve in the run game,” said Bedenbaugh, who will coach the entire offensive line, effectively ending Stoops’ two-offensive-line-coach experiment. “You want to improve in everything. That’s one of the things we’re working through right now, the run game. What schemes fit these guys. Our job as coaches is to put these kids in a position to be successful.”

Bedenbaugh said he’s been watching his new players on film, but is reserving judgment until spring.

“I’m not critiquing them on based on what they did, because I don’t know what they were taught,” he said. “I’ve been able to watch them work out. I think they work extremely hard. I think they want to be great. You don’t know O-linemen really until you get on the field and put pads on them. That’s when you really learn about an offensive line. You find out about their makeup when you’re out there coaching them and things get hard.”

Bedenbaugh, however, said he’s impressed already in two areas with the group coming back: their athleticism and their intelligence.

“I think they’re extremely athletic. Probably one of the most athletic offensive lines I’ve been around,” he said. “It’s hard to know how smart they are until you start coaching them, but from everything they’ve said, they’re smart kids.

“That’s the things I look for, if you’re athletic, smart and tough, then it’s my job to make you a good offensive lineman and that’s what I’m hear for.”

Bedenbaugh, ironically, recruited almost all of OU’s current linemen while he was at West Virginia. Bedenbaugh has been known as a standout recruiter, which was another one of the reasons Stoops hired him.

Bedenbaugh said he’s looking forward to selling recruits on Oklahoma, and has already noticed how strong the Sooners’ brand is with prospects.

“A bunch of kids that didn't give me the time of day (at West Virginia), they've been Facebooking me and calling me,” he said.

Coming off a string of national titles, the SEC seems to be the en vogue conference for blue-chip recruits, especially along the lines. Seven of the top 11 recruiting classes this year hailed from the SEC.

Bedenbaugh, however, said Oklahoma shouldn’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to recruiting.

“Most of these kids that you’re recruiting, they want to play in the NFL. I’ve coached a lot of kids that play in the NFL. They’ve produced a lot of kids here that are playing in the NFL,” he said. “There are so many things to sell about this place. There’s a lot of great things to sell here. Don’t worry about who you’re recruiting against.

“Heck, we’ve got as much to sell as anyone in the country.”