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Much has been said since Lincoln Riley left the Oklahoma Sooners to take the head coaching job at USC. Several former and current Sooners have voiced their feelings on the move, with many of them doubting that Riley, according to him, made the decision in the span of 12 hours.
Now in South Carolina, Austin Stogner and Spencer Rattler have made it clear that they don’t look back on the 2021 season fondly with Rattler calling it “toxic” and Stogner doubting the truthfulness of Riley’s words.
You can find the entire interview linked above, but here is what Thomas said on Lincoln Riley’s exit:
I asked Isaiah Thomas how he learned Lincoln Riley was leaving OU to become head coach at USC. He was kind to tell us here. This is insight, cooled by months of reflection, from a player, a Tulsan, I trust and admire. I know now, more than ever, by his players, Riley was beloved. pic.twitter.com/wXFfdTuX3F
— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) April 18, 2022
Thomas says that the football team was called in for a 2 p.m. meeting, which was odd because they typically didn’t have team meetings after a game. While in the parking lot prior to going inside for the meeting, Thomas got a phone call from a “reliable source.” That source told Thomas that his coach would be leaving for USC.
Much like every Sooners fan on the planet, he didn’t believe it when he first heard it. Then Riley came in to talk to the team.
Thomas says in the interview that he’s not mad at Lincoln Riley for leaving. He understands the reality that college football is a business and that the opening at USC was a good opportunity.
The thing that Thomas has a problem with is how Riley left the Sooners. Thomas felt like the way Riley left just wasn’t “him.”
“It’s just how he left, not because he left. Riley always stood on the table for me. Always had my back,” Thomas told Young. “I specifically remember many team meetings where he’d point me out specifically… He’d always use me as an example in a positive way. So it was just mind-boggling how he left knowing the type of guy he was.”
It sounds like Thomas didn’t buy the “phone call after the game and slept on it” story that Riley gave the team in a five-minute speech. Yes, five minutes. Lincoln Riley gave his players nothing more than a five-minute talk and then left the room.
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