Oklahoma announced today that assistant head coach / outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill is “temporarily stepping away” from football to return home to North Carolina to help care for his 85-year old father.

McNeill shared the following, in part, in the school’s announcement:

“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” said McNeill. “But in the end, being near my dad was a necessary choice. Right now I need to be a son again and I need to help my brother and other family members take care of my dad, who is battling significant health issues. This is not retirement for me. I still want to coach in some form or fashion. But right now that can’t be the case. My focus needs to be on my dad back in North Carolina.”

McNeill, a longtime mentor of head coach Lincoln Riley dating back to their time together at ECU where Ruffin served as head coach, coached the defensive tackles for the Sooners in 2017 and 2018 before stepping into the interim co-defensive coordinator role for the last eight games of 2018.

Riley and McNeill have spent the past 15 of 17 seasons together on the same staff in some form or another.

After being let go at ECU in 2015, Ruffin joined the Virginia staff briefly as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach before joining the Sooners.

Lincoln Riley added the following on his coaching mentor and friend:

“I certainly owe him for helping shape me as a football coach, but I’ll always be more appreciative of the impact he had on shaping me as a person. He’s as genuine as it gets. I’m incredibly grateful for his mentorship and friendship, and for everything he’s done for me and my family. We wish him, his wife Erlene and their family the best of luck as they return home.”

Head here to read the full release.