What is Lincoln Riley afraid of?
That was my first question to myself when I read his statement on why he was not granting a release to quarterback Chandler Morris, who is heading to TCU.
Riley specifically said, “I don’t believe you oughta be able to transfer in conference and be immediately eligible to play. I think we’ve got to discourage that. Doesn’t mean you can’t choose to go to another school. Go to any school you want.”
In a day an age of player empowerment, Lincoln Riley is curiously taking the opposite approach, and it’s not his first time.
He tried to pull the same with West Virginia QB Austin Kendall in 2019. At the time, we wrote a piece about how OU and Riley looked petty in trying to block the transfer. Eventually, OU allowed it after receiving blowback, and Kendall was the starter that fall (Oh, and OU smoked WVU 52-14 that season).
However, the sport is not trending in Lincoln Riley’s preferred direction. This month, the ACC announced the elimination on the intraconference transfer rule, which required players to sit out a year if they transferred within the conference.
What Lincoln Riley is doing is within his rights based on the Big 12 rules. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good look, while also being wildly hypocritical.
So if it’s bad for the sport if players transfer within the conference, can we say the same about coaches? If so, Norman, we have a problem.
Oklahoma’s offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh came from West Virginia. Oklahoma’s defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux came from Kansas.
If the concern is trading a program’s deepest and darkest secrets to an opponent in the conference, I sure would be more concerned with a coach on the staff doing that rather than a teenager who has spent a year in the program and threw a handful of passes.
Also, OU’s position has not been in line with other similar Big 12 moves in recent years. Former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton transferred to TCU and was eligible right away. Safety John Bonney transferred from Texas to Texas Tech a couple of years ago and the Longhorns let it go with no issues.
Lincoln Riley has usually been at the forefront of college football’s advancement both on the off the field, and typically that’s been in the best interests of the players. But in this case, Riley’s approach is archaic.
There’s no doubt that there is a fine line between protecting a program and player empowerment, but we aren’t close to being there yet.
And there’s no way that this Chandler Morris situation, who has no chance of starting at OU this fall, and who is also unlikely to start at TCU, according to Gary Patterson, is the hill that Lincoln Riley needs to die on over this issue.
It’s a petty look for one of the best coaches in the game, who by the way, has absolutely dominated the conference with six-straight Big 12 titles.
There’s nothing to be afraid of Lincoln. Let the kid go and let’s focus on Nebraska, assuming they don’t try to back out of the game again.
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