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#pounditSunday, January 29, 2023

Report details how much Lincoln Riley blindsided Oklahoma in exit

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

Lincoln Riley’s decision to leave Oklahoma for USC stunned the college football world on Sunday. It turns out that those inside the Oklahoma program weren’t any more aware of what was coming than the public was.

A new report from Jason Kersey of The Athletic details how those around the Oklahoma program learned of Riley’s decision. Assistant coaches and players essentially found out at the same time as public did.

Staffers and players were described as “angry” and “shocked” not just by Riley’s departure, but the manner he left.

Riley apparently told his coaching staff that he was leaving for USC just before meeting with his players. All of this reportedly happened around the same time the news was publicly reported. The abruptness of Riley’s departure even left players unsure of whether they were practicing this week.

One staffer remarked that he “(didn’t) have a job right now.” Some around the program attributed Riley’s move to seeking an easier path to the College Football Playoff, which may become tougher for Oklahoma when they join the SEC.

Riley’s departure even caught local TV off-guard. Riley was scheduled to tape his weekly replay show on Sunday, but word did not come through until just before taping that the coach would be “delayed.” Riley ultimately didn’t show up at all for the taping.

There have been surprising coaching moves before, but few have been this shocking. Even the biggest hires usually have some sort of rumor associated with them. There was absolutely nothing linking Riley to USC. There was some chatter about him going to another school, but he firmly shot that down less than 24 hours before leaving.

The Sooners will now have to embark on a coaching search they clearly didn’t expect to have to undertake. Only one name has surfaced so far, and it seems pretty far-fetched.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports


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