Statements from the University of Oklahoma on Lincoln Riley’s departure

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  • Lincoln Riley
    Lincoln Riley
    American football player and coach
  • Bob Stoops
    Bob Stoops
    American football coach

In a move that has sent shockwaves throughout the college football world, Lincoln Riley is leaving the University of Oklahoma to be the next head coach of the USC Trojans. Riley, who just lost his first Bedlam game and wasn’t able to defend the Sooners Big 12 title run leaves the Sooners after compiling a 55-10 record for the Sooners.

Though the Sooners had a lot of success in Riley’s tenure, it was always met with postseason disappointment as Oklahoma wasn’t able to get over the hump in games against Georgia, Alabama, or LSU in the College Football Playoff.

With a move to the SEC pending for the Oklahoma Sooners, Riley leaves for a Pac-12 that has Oregon as a national contender, but not much else.

In the wake of the move, the University of Oklahoma released statements from the leadership as well as Lincoln Riley and Interim Head Coach Bob Stoops to address Riley’s departure.

OU President Joseph Harroz

We’re grateful to Lincoln Riley for his leadership as head coach of our football program these past five seasons, and we wish him the best at USC. As Sooners we know that our better days are always ahead of us, and we’re committed to the continued success of our storied football program. Though we’ve had stars and icons throughout the years, Sooner football isn’t defined by any one individual, but by the excellence we have enjoyed and sustained for generations. Our future is unlimited, and we will undoubtedly find a visionary leader for our next exciting chapter. Until then, we’re fortunate to be in the tremendous hands of Sooner legend Coach Bob Stoops. Boomer!

OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione

I’d like to thank Coach Riley for all he has done to help our football program since he arrived in Norman in 2015. The leadership and ingenuity he displayed during his two years as offensive coordinator made our decision to promote him to head coach when Bob Stoops retired a no-brainer, and he certainly lived up to expectations in his five years as head coach.

Oklahoma is one of the premier football programs and jobs in the country. Our storied history, annual pursuit of conference and national championships, tremendous fan support, beautiful facilities and quality of life combine to make this an incredible place to recruit to and coach, and we have begun the search for our next great leader.

Coach Stoops, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next week, will serve as our interim head coach. He is looking forward to the opportunity and we certainly appreciate all he has done and continues to do for our athletics department and football program. Our team and players are in great hands under his leadership.

When we met with the team today, I communicated to our players that our program is about them. It will always be bigger than any one person. And just as it’s always been, Oklahoma football is positioned for greatness.

Former OU Head Coach Lincoln Riley

My time at OU has included some of the most special years of my life and my family’s lives. I had so many great memories and made so many great friends that we’ll take with us forever. A lot of things that we were a part of here, I’m incredibly proud of — the success on the field, the success off the field, the players. Proud of the staff. Proud of the way we worked so well with the university and our administration. We’ve been able to have two phenomenal leaders in President Harroz and Joe Castiglione, and they have been everything I could ever ask for in this role and more.

Leaving OU was probably the most difficult decision of my life. OU is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. That’s not going to change. It’s not going to change in the SEC, it’s not going to change with another head coach. It’s stood the test of time and it’s going to continue to do so. This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge, and I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that.

We’ll leave here with fond memories. It’ll be very difficult to say goodbye to Norman, but it will always be a part of our family, our history. I’ll be a Sooner fan as long as I live — a fan of this state, of this university and the people here. I love them all very much.

OU Interim Head Coach Bob Stoops

First and foremost, I’m a program guy and whatever I can do to help OU and to support the players, of course I’m glad to do it. I’ll do everything I can to help them finish the season in a strong and successful way and I look forward to that.

Lincoln did a great job in his five years as head coach here and I appreciate all he did for this program. I’ll always appreciate the close friendship we’ve had and will continue to have. I wish the best for him, Caitlin and their family.

And the Coaching Search Begins

Now that it’s official and the powers that be have spoken, the leadership will begin its coaching search. As Harroz and Castiglione mentioned, the University of Oklahoma will forge on into the unknown to bring in the next head coach.

Names are already filtering in as possibilities to take the reigns and will dig into those here at the Sooners Wire.

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