When news emerged that the Cleveland Browns had fired head coach Hue Jackson, one of the first names brought up as a potential replacement was Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.
Riley is known in the football world for his offensive acumen. That’s why OU did not hesitate to promote him from offensive coordinator to head coach when Bob Stoops decided to retire before the 2017 season.
Riley helped develop Baker Mayfield into a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft choice. But would the 35-year-old Riley want to rejoin Mayfield in Cleveland?
“I knew that was coming,” Riley said when asked about the Browns job at his weekly press conference. “No, not right now. You sit here and answer these questions, and I always want to be truthful. The truth for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. I don’t know that I ever will.
“I’m never going to be a guy that’s going to stand up here and say, ‘No way, no how will any of these things ever happen.’ I don’t know that. I know right now I couldn’t care less about the NFL. We’re trying to win this game and make a run that we all think we have in us right now.”
— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) October 29, 2018
Riley is in his fourth season at Oklahoma, but just his second as the school’s head coach. He arrived in 2015 as offensive coordinator, helping to revamp an offense that scuffled under Josh Heupel. When longtime OU head coach Bob Stoops decided to retire in June 2017, Riley was the natural choice to step into Stoops’ role.
In Riley’s first season as head coach, OU won the Big 12 and advanced to the College Football Playoff, only to suffer a heartbreaking loss to Georgia in the semifinals. This year, OU is off to a 7-1 start and is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 heading into Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, Riley’s alma mater.
Riley certainly didn’t rule out ever wanting to be an NFL head coach at some point in his career. But for now, getting the Sooners back to the College Football Playoff is his focus.
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