Schmidt leaving OU for Texas A&M

CNHI Oklahoma photoOklahoma quarterback Blake Bell and strength coach Jerry Schmidt celebrate Oklahoma’a win over Oklahoma State in 2013. Schmidt is reportedly leaving Oklahoma for Texas A&M after 19 years in the Sooner State.

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s longtime strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt has accepted a similar position at Texas A&M, according to multiple reports.

Schmidt is OU’s longest-tenured staffer after completing his 19th consecutive season with the program.

Former OU player and ESPN analyst Dusty Dvoracek and SoonerScoop.com’s Carey Murdock are both reporting Schmidt’s departure.

Strength coaches provide instrumental guidance in the offseason. Schmidt — known by those in the locker room as “Schmidty” — was named 1991 Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year. He graduated from Nebraska in 1986, then completed another round of schooling at OU in 2000.

Schmidt, 55, made $339,000 annually, according USA Today’s coaching salary database, making him the 15th-highest paid strength coach in the country and third highest in the Big 12.

Schmidt worked on strength staffs at Notre Dame (1989-1995) and Florida (1995-99), which pieced together national title teams during both tenures.

Before this season, OU opened a brand-new 30,000 square-foot speed and strength facility for the strength staff to utilize. But a few months earlier former head coach Bob Stoops retired, removing Schmidt’s strongest tie to the university.

First-year OU head coach Lincoln Riley often spoke glowingly of Schmidt, whose offseason workouts were notorious among players. This past summer, the schedule was designed with a faster start to the season in mind, and quarterback Baker Mayfield said many players agreed “it’s the hardest start to a summer that we ever had.”

Riley now has two open positions on staff as he looks for a strength coach and 10th additional assistant coach, which the NCAA is allowing for the first time.

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Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.