One big point to remember when discussing Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma

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On The Riley Files, Oklahoma insider Kegan Reneau makes the simple and obvious but important point that when Lincoln Riley arrived in 2015, Oklahoma football — while not nearly as bad as USC was last year — was still not hitting its targets as a program.

Riley is stepping into a true mess at USC, inheriting a disaster from Clay Helton in 2021. Riley did not step into a mess at Oklahoma.

However, OU was certainly in the midst of what could reasonably be viewed as a lull when Riley came to Norman from East Carolina in 2015. Oklahoma won the Big 12 in 2010 and then went four straight years without winning a conference championship.

Riley — in two years as offensive coordinator and then his first four years as head coach — won six straight Big 12 titles at Oklahoma. That is an important piece of perspective in sizing up his OU tenure.

“When Bob (Stoops) left, Lincoln became the head coach, but he still held the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks (coach) titles. They didn’t have a 10th assistant. It was pretty stable. When Bob really opened up and let Lincoln and his ideas flow was really when Oklahoma had success,” Reneau said. “Don’t get me wrong, in 2011 they won 10 games and they underperformed in 2012. They won 10 games. By the fan base’s expectations, they underperformed. In 2013, they win the Sugar Bowl, but still underperformed that season.

“When you take that perspective and you add onto it the way they were recruiting at the time, they were still in that mentality of ‘We’re gonna win with you, we’re gonna win without you,’ and the kids were changing. The times were changing, the kids were getting more acclimated to social media and they were seeing everything and they started acting differently. Oklahoma struggled a little to adjust and change.”

With Riley in 2015, the conference titles started flowing again.

He wasn’t repairing a USC-level mess, but Lincoln Riley instantly boosted Oklahoma football’s results. That is always worth remembering.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire