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Houston will regret passing on Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley

big 12 assistant lincoln riley oklahoma

With several reports stating that the University of Houston is set to hire Joey Freshwater, sorry, I mean Lane Kiffin, to be its next head football coach, there’s no doubt the University will regret not hiring Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

The reports began surfacing late on Thursday morning, that Houston was close to naming Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin to become the new head coach of the Houston Cougars.

I was shocked. THAT Lane Kiffin? Oh, you mean Joey Freshwater?

Come on. Kiffin could be close to winning two-straight National Championships under arguably the greatest college coach of all time, but he didn’t even get a sniff for Power 5 openings at places like LSU and Texas.

Now, I’m not saying Kiffin should have. He should not have. But, Houston deserved better. They owed themselves better.

Yes, they deserved Lincoln Riley, the Oklahoma offensive coordinator who has rapidly turned around an offense that was stagnant under former offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.

Sure, Riley is only 33 years old, but he’s served as an offensive coordinator for the past 7 seasons, starting at East Carolina in 2010. He’s young, but he’s no rookie.

All reports on Riley’s character and temperament have been incredibly positive and he’s had two seasons to learn under a top-5 head coach in Bob Stoops. Also, Riley has had two season to work with and around guys like Mike Stoops, who despite his struggles, has been around the college game forever and has spent time as a head coach at the Power 5 level.

From a coaching perspective, all three (Riley, Herman, Kiffin) have slightly different versions of the spread, but Riley’s is more similar to Herman’s. Riley came into Norman with what many expected to be a typical “Air Raid” style offense. But, he has used his running backs (Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon) plenty to mirror Herman’s power-spread attack. As for Lane Kiffin, his is more of a pro-style spread, with a lot of RPO’s (run/pass option) mixed in.

Either Riley or Kiffin could work into Herman’s personnel and not change the system drastically to best use the talent that is there. But, it’s Riley whose been able to combine the Air Raid with some of the smashmouth spread running techniques that Herman used and would be the better fit.

We’ve seen Lane Kiffin, the head coach, and it’s mediocre, at best. He’s 35-21 over his career at Tennessee and USC, while going 21-16 in conference play.

Plus, think Lane Kiffin won’t just at the first Power 5 job that comes his way? He will. Look at how badly he screwed Tennessee, leaving after 1 year at the program for USC. He screwed Tennessee, a supposed Top-10 job in college football. Think he wouldn’t do that to your little Group of 5 school in Houston? He will.

This isn’t to say Lincoln Riley wouldn’t leave for a better gig. He would. It’s the nature of the business.

But, Riley would’ve been a hire with more character, humility, and class.

Now, let’s get to the off field side… a.k.a. the Joey Freshwater angle. 

This should be concerning. Maybe it’s all just conjecture, but if you believe the stories from Barstool and other media outlets … then Kiffin has a little “strange” in him. Is this the kind of stuff you want your head coach being tied to or connected with?

Kiffin is coaching under Nick Saban and still can’t stay on the straight and narrow. Think he would be able to do it without a direct boss to keep him in some kind of control? I highly, highly doubt it.

The only benefit to Kiffin creepin’ in H-Town is that it’s a city of millions compared to a smaller, college town like Tuscalosa.

Sorry, Houston, you’ll reap what you sow with this one. Have fun with La… Joey F. Hide yo’ girlfriends, hide yo’ daughters.

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