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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Articles tagged: Oklahoma Football

Oklahoma president called out for quote about Lincoln Riley exit

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

University of Oklahoma president Joe Harroz is hearing it for a comment he made Monday in response to coach Lincoln Riley’s abrupt departure.

Riley’s decision to leave for USC on Sunday took Oklahoma by surprise. Harroz voiced that frustration in a Monday press conference, admitting that “we would’ve liked more notice” from Riley on his decision.

Harroz got very little sympathy for this stance. Numerous people on social media, including several reporters and commentators, pointed out the perceived hypocrisy in Harroz’s statement stemming from the Sooners’ move to the SEC. The announcement that Oklahoma and Texas had been secretly negotiating with the SEC blindsided the rest of the Big 12 and left the future of the conference uncertain when the story broke in July.

No, the situations are not exactly comparable. That said, given the grief both Oklahoma and Texas got over their SEC move, nobody will be feeling sorry for the Sooners here. If anything, given how arrogant and shady they came across during the SEC affair, a lot of people will be enjoying this.

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

Former Oklahoma players have clear pick for new head coach

Brent Venables in a Clemson hat

The abrupt departure of Lincoln Riley has left Oklahoma searching for a new head coach. For several Oklahoma alumni, the choice is an obvious one.

In the hours after Riley left for USC, there was a groundswell of support from ex-players for the Sooners to make a run at Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Venables has long been a highly-respected assistant coach, and served as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2011.

Among those publicly calling for Venables were former Oklahoma defensive standouts Dusty Dvoracek, Aaron Colvin, and Tony Jefferson II, all of whom played under the current Clemson assistant.

As of Monday, there were no indications that Venables and Oklahoma were in contact, despite rampant rumors on social media. However, given his history with the school and his stature in college football, he would make sense as a candidate.

The Sooners definitely appear likely to conduct a larger search, and one NFL coach has already been pressed into speaking about the position. It doesn’t sound like a new coach, be it Venables or someone else, will be announced quickly.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables prior to the game against the Boston College Eagles at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Kliff Kingsbury has interesting response to Oklahoma rumors

Kliff Kingsbury

Kliff Kingsbury was quickly linked to the Oklahoma head coaching job after Lincoln Riley left for USC on Sunday, and his response to the report was somewhat surprising.

Shortly after the Riley news broke, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Oklahoma is targeting Kingsbury as a potential replacement. The Arizona Cardinals coach was asked about that on Monday, and he stopped well short of denying that he has interest.

Does that mean Kingsbury would actually entertain the idea of leaving his NFL head coaching job to take over at Oklahoma? Probably not.

What’s more likely is that Kingsbury is using the Oklahoma talk as leverage against the Cardinals. His contract with the team is set to expire after 2022, and there’s no way he wants to go into next season as a lame duck. If the Cardinals believe he is interested in the Oklahoma job, they might be more likely to offer him more money and/or work out an extension sooner.

Schefter was ruthlessly mocked on Twitter for his Kingsbury-Oklahoma report. The main reason for that is people believe the NFL insider is helping out Kingsbury and his agent. Unless you think Kingsbury would actually leave the Cardinals for Oklahoma, his responses on Monday are further evidence that he is trying to put pressure on his current employer.

Spencer Rattler enters transfer portal after Lincoln Riley’s exit

Spencer Rattler holds a ball

Oklahoma lost its head coach on Sunday when Lincoln Riley shockingly left for USC, and the Sooners are now out at least one quarterback as well.

Former five-star recruit Spencer Rattler announced on Monday that he will enter the transfer portal. He thanked Oklahoma and said his time in Norman is something he will “cherish forever.”

Things did not go as planned for Rattler at Oklahoma even with Riley. Many expected him to follow in the footsteps of the other great quarterbacks that played under Riley, but Rattler took a big step back this season. He was benched earlier in the year, though he did briefly got his job back two weeks ago.

Rattler had been expected to leave Oklahoma even if Riley stayed. The bigger problem for the Sooners is that freshman Caleb Williams, who took over for Rattler midway through the season, may also be thinking about transferring.

Photo: Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (7) warms up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021

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

Could Sonny Dykes ditch TCU for Oklahoma?

Sonny Dykes during pregame

Oklahoma is scrambling for a head coach after losing Lincoln Riley to USC. Numerous names have been mentioned as potential candidates for the Sooners job, including Mark Stoops and Josh Heupel. But one reporter added another name to the mix: Sonny Dykes.

Dykes just completed his fifth season at SMU and went 8-4 (he’s 30-18 overall at SMU). He was an extremely hot candidate following a 7-0 start to the season, which led Texas Tech and TCU to compete for him. TCU won out, and Dykes is set to be introduced as the Horned Frogs’ head coach on Tuesday.

But the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel says there is mutual interest between Dykes and Oklahoma. Engel says that is a situation to watch out for.

It would be hard to imagine Dykes screwing over both SMU and TCU in the same month, but Engel says that’s a possibility.

I doubt it.

It would be incredibly poor form for Dykes to ditch TCU. He also should know better than to go to a school that’s headed to the SEC. Dykes’ tenure in the Pac-12 at Cal went poorly (19-30 over four seasons). It would be much worse for him in the SEC, and at Oklahoma, where expectations to win are much higher.

Stay at TCU, Sonny.

Photo: Dec 20, 2017; Frisco, TX, United States; Southern Methodist Mustangs head coach Sonny Dykes on the field before the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2017 Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma bringing back program legend to coach bowl game

Oklahoma Sooners logo

Lincoln Riley is leaving Oklahoma to take the head coaching job at USC, which means he will not coach the Sooners for their bowl game. Fortunately, they will be in the capable hands of a program legend.

Bob Stoops will coach Oklahoma in their bowl game, according to Bruce Feldman and Antonio Morales of The Athletic. Stoops was present on Sunday at a meeting in which Riley informed players that he is leaving for USC.

Stoops, who was Oklahoma’s head coach from 1999-2016, has been helping Riley out with the program in a number of ways. The former national champion helped coached the Sooners last season when Riley was short-staffed due to COVID-19 issues. The two have maintained a close relationship since Riley was the offensive coordinator under Stoops and then inherited his head coaching position.

Of course, there have been plenty of rumors about Stoops coming back to coach Oklahoma on a full-time basis. He’s only 61, which is young by coaching standards. His son Drake is also a wide receiver for the Sooners. However, Stoops recently made it fairly clear that he is not interested in coaching at the moment.

Former Wisconsin coaching legend Barry Alvarez twice served as interim head coach for the Badgers in bowl games after he transitioned from coach to athletic director. He did not stay on as head coach either time, so there is precedent for Stoops to just return as the coach at Oklahoma for one game.

Did Caleb Williams hint he will transfer to follow Lincoln Riley to USC?

Caleb Williams in uniform

Lincoln Riley is leaving Oklahoma for USC. Now the question is: which players are going to follow him?

One prominent player who would make a huge difference if he left the Sooners for the Trojans is quarterback Caleb Williams. The freshman quarterback on Sunday shared his first message regarding the Riley news.

Williams said he was happy for Riley. He also indicated he might have some other news coming when he said “that’s all I plan to say right now!”

Williams saying “right now” implies he will have more news later. Perhaps that news will be that he is going to transfer to follow his coach.

One ESPN analyst certainly expects Williams to transfer to USC.

Williams took over for the struggling Spencer Rattler midway through the season at Oklahoma. He has passed for 1,670 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

Even if Williams doesn’t transfer, Riley still would have current junior Kedon Slovis and current freshman Jaxson Dart on USC’s roster to work with. Either player should excel under Riley.

Photo: Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams (13) before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Iowa State Cyclones at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.

Will Oklahoma QB recruit Malachi Nelson follow Lincoln Riley to USC?

Malachi Nelson poses

USC’s impending hiring of Lincoln Riley will make a huge difference for the program. Riley had legitimate success at Oklahoma, going 12-2 in three straight seasons, while coaching an explosive offense. Not only should he be able to bring his successful offense/passing game to the Pac-12, but there is another big benefit to hiring him.

Even though he was at Oklahoma, Riley was already recruiting the talent-rich Southern California area well. As Inside USC’s Scott Wolf noted, Riley had the No. 1 recruiting class for 2023 at Oklahoma. Much of that was centered around three top players from Los Alamitos, a successful high school located about 30 miles south of USC.

Wolf wondered how long it would be before Los Alamitos quarterback Malachi Nelson follows Riley to USC.

If Nelson switches, it stands to reason that his high school wide receiver teammates would switch too. Riley might be able to flip the entire package.

Nelson is just behind Arch Manning when it comes to 2023 quarterback rankings. He seemed to enjoy being committed to Oklahoma, but he could still change his mind and follow Riley.

Any player from SoCal who committed to Riley at Oklahoma might find it even more enticing to stay home in Los Angeles.

Adam Schefter ruthlessly mocked over Kliff Kingsbury-Oklahoma report

Adam Schefter

Lincoln Riley stunned the sports world on Sunday when he agreed to become the next head coach at USC. One report claimed Oklahoma is targeting Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to be Riley’s replacement, but most people found that laughable. That led to ESPN’s Adam Schefter feeling the wrath of Twitter.

Shortly after the Riley news broke, Schefter reported that Oklahoma is eyeing Kingsbury as a coaching candidate. The NFL insider also noted that Kingsbury’s current contract with the Cardinals expires after 2022. The latter piece of information is the one people felt was most important.

With Kingsbury almost certainly seeking a new deal from the Cardinals, it would make sense for his camp to leak information about Oklahoma having interest in him. Schefter was accused of being a mouthpiece and mocked on Twitter.

Now, that’s not to say Oklahoma doesn’t want Kingsbury. They would gladly hire him if he had interest in the job, but why would he? The Cardinals are 9-2 and one of the best teams in the NFC. They also have a young franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray. Kingsbury would be voluntarily taking a demotion if he left a good NFL team for Oklahoma.

When someone inevitably asks Kingsbury about the Oklahoma rumors, don’t be surprised if he responds the same way Mike Tomlin did when he was linked to the USC job.