Oklahoma’s desire to give offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley a new deal was secret. It was expected to be announced in June. The school decided not to wait any longer on Thursday.
The OU Board of Regents approved a three-year deal that will pay the 33-year-old play-caller $1.3 million per season.
There was a motive behind announcing the deal on Thursday.
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“We’re hopeful he’ll be with us as long as he can. We just decided there was no reason to put it off,” OU President David Boren said. “We made that decision; we were already in agreement over what we were going to pay him and extending for three years. Why not let our competitors know that? They’re going around saying, Oh, they might not still have him if you go to OU. In the middle of recruiting season, why wait to let everyone know he’s coming back?”
Riley, who became the Sooners’ offensive coordinator in 2015 is one of the hottest assistant coaches in the country. He interviewed for the Houston job in January. He was considered the favorite until the large buyout Houston wanted to put in the deal chased him away.
Other schools have used Riley’s stock as a way of negative recruiting against the Sooners. Opposing coaches have told recruits that Riley is unlikely to be at the school much longer.
The deal, which makes Riley the first assistant coach in school history to get a contract worth at least $1 million per season, is supposed to put rumors about Riley’s future to rest.
“He’s the kind of person that looks you in the eye and tells it like it is. We like people like that. I hope he’ll stay here a long time,” Boren said. “This was another step toward us showing that.”
This is the third straight year Riley’s multi-year contract has been torn up and redone heading into the summer. Last season, he made $900,000. The original deal he signed when he came to OU from East Carolina in 2015 was for $500,000 per season.