Our four hours of conversation with Oklahoma insider Kegan Reneau on The Riley Files unearthed some central truths about the way the college football coaching business works.
One is that much as coaches have to constantly re-recruit players (to prevent them from entering the transfer portal), universities have to re-recruit coaches. This point came across very clearly in our conversations about Lincoln Riley and why he felt he needed to leave Oklahoma for USC.
“That final conversation Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley had, it probably was through his agent,” Reneau said. “Oklahoma was ready to say yes, they had put up all the money and all the resources to say yes, but I think it was too far down the road at that point. (OU wanted) to go in a different direction.
“People shouldn’t be put in (certain) situations, but it is just the power dynamic we have in college football, where a university and the leadership in a university has to recruit their own head coaches these days. It’s so interesting. It’s so compelling. It is funny to me that right when they (Oklahoma) hired Brent Venables, oh look! Now that war chest that the donors have had for all this time, now it’s being spent. Now we’re getting this commitment. Now they’re getting this buy-in, oil and gas being (priced) where it’s at. That certainly helps that situation in the state of Oklahoma. It’s a very compelling conversation to have.
“At some point, I feel confident in saying, yeah, Lincoln Riley was told no on something. I don’t know if it was resources. I don’t know if it was on pay. I don’t know if it was his staff pool. I don’t think it was those things. I think all of those things were signed off on. There’s other finer details of the workings with the University of Oklahoma that I think Lincoln Riley wanted to have answers for and he never got those answers.”
Postscript: Oklahoma wasn’t wrong to tell Lincoln Riley “no” on something (what precisely that thing was, we might never know). Riley wasn’t “right” to leave Oklahoma. What seems reasonable to conclude from Reneau’s analysis is that a “no” was conveyed at some point in a negotiation. On that point, there shouldn’t be any disagreement.
From Riley’s vantage point, OU probably did not re-recruit him well enough.
That also shouldn’t come across as a particularly controversial or debatable point.