Syndication: The Oklahoman

Oklahoma defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Ted Roof will not return in 2024, coach Brent Venables announced in a release. The Sooners are expected to hire Jacksonville State defensive coordinator Zac Alley, who just finished his first season with the Gamecocks, as Roof's replacement, 247Sports reports.

Roof spent the past two seasons as the Sooners' DC, arriving as part of Venables' first staff ahead of the 2022 campaign, after previously working alongside Venables as a defensive assistant at Clemson in 2021. The decision to move forward without Roof, a longtime defensive assistant of more than 30 years, was "mutually agreed," according to the statement. 

"I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Ted," Venables said in a statement. "I told him Wednesday I made a decision to go in a new direction at defensive coordinator and offered him an opportunity to remain on our staff in a different role. He explained that he has a deep desire to keep coaching and will look to do that at a different school. Ted is an incredibly knowledgeable coach and teacher, and his players love playing for him. Our program is thankful for his extreme dedication the last two seasons and for helping make us better."

Oklahoma ranked No. 78 nationally in total defense at 389.4 yards allowed per game in 2023. While that was an improvement from 2022, when which the Sooners ranked No. 121 nationally at a whopping 461.0 yards allowed per game, it still ranked sixth out of 14 teams in the Big 12 as Oklahoma went a third consecutive season without a Big 12 championship. 

The Sooners began the year 7-0 before losing three games in the back half of the season, culminating in a 38-24 Alamo Bowl loss to Arizona in which the Sooners were outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter. The team had previously surrendered 45 points in a winning effort against TCU in its regular-season finale.

Sooners target rising star with Clemson ties 

If Oklahoma closes the deal on Alley, it would be quite the promotion for the 29-year-old, who has three seasons' worth of experience as a college defensive coordinator. He kickstarted his coaching career as a student assistant and later graduate assistant at Clemson from 2011-18, overlapping with Venables' run as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. Alley then served as an assistant at Boise State from 2019-20 before taking the defensive coordinator job at Louisiana-Monroe in 2021, making Alley (27 years old at the time) the youngest coordinator in FBS. 

More recently, Alley shined in his first season at Jacksonville State. Alley oversaw a Gamecocks defense that ranked 33rd nationally in the program's first season at the FBS level. The defensive efforts helped propel Jacksonville State to a 9-4 finish, complete with a bowl victory, as the Gamecocks gave up just 20.3 points allowed per game. 

Alley has drawn plenty of comparisons to Venables, something he's embraced since their time together at Clemson. 

"I laugh about it, but I talk like Coach [Venables]," Alley told The Post and Courier in November. "I coach like him. My parents tell me my mannerisms are like him on the sidelines."

Much will be asked of Alley in the new role given the timing of the hire. It comes as Oklahoma prepares to leave its 28-year home in the Big 12 for the SEC, joined by Texas. The Sooners will reunite with former Big Eight foe Missouri and former Big 12 opponent Texas A&M in their new home, the former of which they will face in 2024.