Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Articles tagged: Oklahoma Football

QB Dillon Gabriel switches transfer commitment from UCLA to Oklahoma

Dillon Gabriel in UCF gear

Dillon Gabriel is doing a flip-flop regarding his transfer plans.

Gabriel announced on Dec. 16 that he was transferring from UCF to UCLA. However, the former Knights quarterback is changing plans just weeks later; Gabriel will be transferring to Oklahoma instead.

Gabriel’s change of plans are notable and understandable.

Gabriel was recruited to UCF by then-offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Lebby later left UCF for Ole Miss, and he recently left Ole Miss to join Brent Venables’ staff at Oklahoma.

Gabriel had interest in joining Lebby at Oklahoma, but he wasn’t about to transfer there as long as Caleb Williams was around. As soon as Williams announced on Monday that he was entering the transfer portal, Gabriel made his move.

What’s interesting is that Williams never officially said he was leaving Oklahoma. In fact, in his transfer portal announcement, Williams said he was keeping open the option of returning to Oklahoma. Gabriel’s transfer to OU likely just solidified Williams’ move elsewhere.

It’s hard to blame Gabriel for his decision. Oklahoma is a much better program than UCLA; Gabriel knows and trusts Lebby; and now he’s going to a program where he knows they won’t cancel a bowl game hours before kickoff.

In 26 career games, Gabriel has passed for 8,041 yards, 70 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Photo: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams enters transfer portal

Caleb Williams in uniform

Caleb Williams may have played in Oklahoma’s bowl game last week against Oregon, but he may not have plans to remain with the Sooners.

Williams announced on Monday that he has entered the transfer portal. He says that the changes at Oklahoma, including Lincoln Riley leaving for USC, led to his decision.

One important thing to note is that while Williams is entering the portal, he says returning to Oklahoma is still an option. Williams said he is entering the portal to be able to speak with other programs and see what they have to offer.

In essence, Williams is using the transfer portal as a tool to reopen his recruiting. He could still decide to return to the Sooners, though once someone’s eyes begin to wander, it’s unlikely they go back.

Williams seemed to hint at this outcome when Riley first left for USC.

Williams took over for Spencer Rattler and passed for 1,670 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions during the regular season. Rattler has transferred to South Carolina, meaning Williams would have the job to himself if he decides to stay.

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.

New Oklahoma coach taking classy approach with Clemson recruits

Brent Venables at an Oklahoma press conference

Brent Venables helped Clemson recruit some of the best talent in the country for a decade, but the new Oklahoma head coach is not in the business of poaching.

Venables, who spent 10 years as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, was named the head coach at Oklahoma earlier this month. Several recruits have now decommitted from the Tigers after both Venables and former offensive coordinator Tony Elliott left to take head coaching jobs with other programs. Venables was asked on Wednesday if he will go after some of those players now that they have re-opened their recruitment. He said he has too much respect for Dabo Swinney to do that.

It’s frowned upon in college football for a coach to take committed recruits with him upon landing a new job. In this case, Venables would be recruiting players who no longer want to play for Swinney, anyway. He obviously doesn’t feel comfortable even doing that.

Brian Kelly was asked if he circled back with Notre Dame recruits after he left for LSU, and he seemed insulted by the question. Coaches don’t want to be perceived in that light. Venables has a very close relationship with Swinney, so it’s no surprise he considers any current or former Clemson commits to be off-limits.

Photo: Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY Network

Lincoln Riley has message for Oklahoma fans sore about his move

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

The University of Oklahoma, Sooners players and their legions of fans are not exactly thrilled with Lincoln Riley. And why would they be following his abrupt departure to USC?

Things have gotten so sour that Senator Bill Coleman of Ponca City even proposed a bill this week that would rename a desolate section of State Highway 325 to the “Lincoln Riley Highway.”

“I felt the State of Oklahoma needed an appropriate goodbye to this former head coach whose sudden departure left many in shock, including a team of young, dedicated college players,” Coleman said in a news release. “I found the tiniest section of our most desolate of highways to pay tribute to Coach Riley’s exit from Oklahoma football and the state. This is only fitting as this is the last three inches one sees before leaving our great state heading west.”

Riley has heard it all and he’s seen it all. It hasn’t stopped him from poaching recruits from Oklahoma, but he remains hopeful that someday bygones will be bygones.

“I hope time will heal that, I really do,” Riley said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “I understand they’re disappointed that we left. [There’s] a lot of love for that place. Me and my family poured our heart and soul into that place for seven years. Loved every second of it. Had a tremendous run of championships, success on and off the field. We’ve got nothing but love.

“These things, when you leave a university, they either fire you or you leave on your own accord and neither one of them are easy and we understand it. Our love for that place will never go away. We certainly hope as time goes on, the time over there will be remembered fondly and everybody will remember all the great success we had together.”

Riley’s plea will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. At least for now.

Interim Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has said he didn’t take Riley’s exit personally and fans shouldn’t, either. That, of course, is easier said than done despite Riley going 55-10 over five seasons with the Sooners, winning four Big 12 championships and advancing to the College Football Playoffs three times.

They say time heals all wounds, but Riley bailing may take a few extra years to get over for some.

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 Dillon Gabriel transfer to Ole Miss or Oklahoma?

Dillon Gabriel in UCF gear

Dillon Gabriel is one of the top quarterbacks available in the transfer portal, and there are a few schools where he could be leaning.

The former UCF quarterback took an official visit to Ole Miss over the weekend and attended a basketball game at the school.

The visit to Ole Miss led to strong speculation that he could transfer to Oxford to play under Lane Kiffin next season. But there is a twist. Gabriel was recruited to UCF by Jeff Lebby, who left UCF for Ole Miss last year. It’s not a stretch to think that Lebby’s presence drew Gabriel to Ole Miss.

But there is talk that Lebby could leave Ole Miss to become Brent Venables’ offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. If Gabriel wants to play for Lebby, then maybe Oklahoma would be his desired spot.

Gabriel has passed for 70 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his college career. He got hurt early this season and was replaced by Mikey Keene.

Photo: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Venables expected to be named Oklahoma head coach

Brent Venables in a Clemson hat

Oklahoma was dealt a major blow last week when Lincoln Riley left to take the head coaching job at USC, but they are replacing Riley with one of the most respected assistant coaches in college football.

Oklahoma is expected to name Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables their next head coach, ESPN’s Chris Low reports. The two sides are in the process of working out a deal and hope to have it finalized by Sunday.

Venables has spent the last 10 years as defensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney. He had associate head coach added to his title in 2018. The 50-year-old has been given a ton of credit for Clemson’s dominant run in recent years.

Venables also has deep ties to Oklahoma. He was an assistant coach there from 1999-2011 under former head coach Bob Stoops. Venables was co-defensive coordinator on the 2000 Sooners team that won the BCS National Championship.

Former Oklahoma players strongly endorsed Venables for the job this week. While the biggest rumor about the Sooners job involved a current NFL coach, Venables was viewed by many as the obvious choice.

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

Bob Stoops to be paid huge sum by Oklahoma despite trying to refuse

Bob Stoops

Bob Stoops is returning as the head coach at Oklahoma for one game in the wake of Lincoln Riley’s departure, and the Sooners legend will be paid handsomely for his services.

Oklahoma president Joe Harroz said on Thursday that Stoops will be paid $325,000 to coach the team from now until its bowl game, which will likely be the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. That salary is based on Riley’s former contract with the school. Harroz says Stoops tried to refuse the money, but Oklahoma will pay him anyway.

That works out to more than $10,000 per day.

Stoops was making more than $5 million per year by the time he left Oklahoma in 2016. He has remained close to the program and helped out last year when Riley was short-staffed due to COVID-19 issues.

There has been a lot of talk about Stoops returning to Oklahoma as the team’s full-time head coach. He’s just 61, which is young by coaching standards. However, Stoops recently made it fairly clear that he is not interested.

Kyler Murray responds to rumors linking Kliff Kingsbury to Oklahoma

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray does not appear to be losing sleep over the possibility of losing head coach Kliff Kingsbury to his alma mater.

Kingsbury has been linked to the vacant Oklahoma head coach job, though there is no indication he has been directly approached. That topic on Wednesday was put to Murray, himself a former Sooner, and the Arizona Cardinals quarterback did not sound too worried about any potential Kingsbury exit.

Sure, Murray will want to see the Sooners land a quality head coach. He just doesn’t particularly want it to be his current one.

Kingsbury has been fairly evasive when it comes to discussing any possible interest in the Oklahoma job. That is more likely because he’s using the rumors as leverage for a raise from the Cardinals, a team he has led to a 9-2 record so far. Murray isn’t sweating things. For the moment, Cardinals fans probably shouldn’t be either.

Oklahoma players call out Lincoln Riley over USC quote

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

A few Oklahoma Sooners players called out Lincoln Riley via Instagram over a quote the coach offered about USC.

Riley was Oklahoma’s head coach from 2017-2021 and coached the Sooners to a heartbreaking loss in their Bedlam game against rival Oklahoma State on Saturday. Hours later, he was negotiating with USC to become their next head coach. You can see how that would be troubling to many of the Sooners players.

On Monday, Riley was introduced by USC as their next head coach. The Trojans’ football account on Instagram promoted the hiring with numerous graphics and postings. One post included a quote from Riley in which he declared, “this is going to be the mecca of college football.”

That quote, which USC Football’s Instagram page promoted, bothered some Sooners players.

Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas called out Riley for being a snake, saying in a comment on USC’s post that the coach “told us that last week.”

Linebacker Nik Bonitto also replied to the post with a comment. He said “LOL,” which is an acronym for “laughing out loud,” likely because he thought the comment was B.S.

The anger from the Oklahoma players is completely understandable. They likely feel abandoned by their coach, and a report details how blindsided they were. As for Riley, maybe he feels his comment about the “mecca of college football” is less about the school where he’s coaching, and more about where he is coaching.

Photo: Nov 29, 2021; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lincoln Riley poses with Fight on sign during a press conference to introduce Riley as Southern California Trojans head coach. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley shares timeline of his decision to leave Oklahoma for USC

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

Lincoln Riley stunned the college football world this week when he left Oklahoma for USC, and the coach insists the opportunity came together as quickly as it appears.

Riley shed some light on his decision to take the USC job during a Tuesday appearance on “The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd.” He said the move is something that was “very sudden” and that he was genuinely committed to Oklahoma before the Trojans approached him.

“It was very sudden. I was totally committed to our team as we made a championship and playoff run,” Riley said. “I made that very clear to anybody that was interested.

“We got to Norman late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and had a conversation that USC had some serious interest. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up and had a conversation with the USC people, and you could feel their energy. You could feel that the leadership from the very top is willing to do the things that maybe haven’t been done here as of recent to get USC to where it needs to be.”

A lot of people will find Riley’s timeline hard to believe. The USC job has been vacant since Clay Helton was fired in September. It is highly unlikely that the discussions between Riley and USC only began on Saturday night. Even Oklahoma’s president seemed frustrated with Riley over the way he handled his exit.

Of course, that is how things work in college football. Coaches are sometimes in positions where they can’t risk having information leak. That said, Riley may have also misled people by emphatically shooting down another rumor less than 24 hours before his Oklahoma departure.

There are always going to be hard feelings when a coach leaves one top program for another. Riley probably could have done some things differently, but avoiding that altogether is impossible.

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