The social media storm of criticism aimed at Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has been harsh and emotionally charged. Former Oklahoma QB Chandler Morris has chosen to transfer to Big 12 competitor TCU, and since then Riley and Oklahoma have decided to not release Chandler for immediate eligibility.
The decision has been met with plenty of criticism, even from this very website.
How could a coach who has benefited so substantially from transfer quarterbacks possibly be so bold as to disallow one from transferring from his program? The gall to give a young man such a difficult time seems and feels hypocritical to many.
However, that view is short sighted.
Lincoln Riley is almost always the smartest man in the room, as proven by his opportunities to attend Ivy League schools out of high school. This time is no different. Lincoln’s stance is not some grumpy old man smoking a cigar, pounding his desk, and demanding pictures of Spiderman, desperately just wanting his way in an ever-changing world. No, he is about to see the big picture, and while he has continued to embrace change and shown the ability to adapt on the fly, he can see where this is headed, and he is not on board.
Let us begin by debunking the idea that Riley is hypocritical for his stance. Of the three transfer quarterbacks who have come to help Oklahoma, only one of those players (Jalen Hurts) was granted immediate eligibility. Jalen was a graduate transfer, who left the SEC to come to the Big 12 Conference. Kyler Murray sat one year. Baker Mayfield sat one year as well, and he was a walk-on. Of course, Lincoln Riley was not in Oklahoma until after the year Baker Mayfield had to sit due to Big 12 rules. Oklahoma pushed hard to allow Baker Mayfield to regain his lost year of eligibility based on the reasonable premise that he was a walk-on player and had not even been able to utilize his red shirt season.
Originally the other schools disagreed, until suddenly (likely after OU flexed their muscles a bit) they backtracked and created a rule for walk-ons. Though Riley was not sure what he was going to do when Austin Kendall transferred to WVU, he did eventually release him because he was a graduate transfer. This situation, however, is hardly comparable. Chandler Morris did not just simply get beat out by two Heisman winners and graduate. Chandler was a true freshman and he decided to leave. Had he chosen to go to a different league he would have been granted a release by Oklahoma, just like they did for Jalin Conyers, who transferred to Arizona State.
Transferring within the league is just different, and the point that the ACC has already changed their rule should not mean anything. In fact, the ACC is one of the worst-led Power 5 Conferences, what they do is often the model for what to ignore. Another weird claim on the Twitter-verse is that Riley is doing this because he is “scared” and “he doesn’t want his opponents to have a competitive advantage having his old players”. Oklahoma is more than secure about their odds of beating Texas Christian, folks. TCU has beaten Oklahoma only once since they have joined the Big 12 conference. It was Oklahoma’s worst season in the Bob Stoops era, and Patterson’s best team ever. OU lost the game by four points.
Not only that, but this is the age of communication, do you think no text messages or cell phone calls will take place between a student-athlete and his coaches? Of course not.
Here is the main issue, and it’s mind blowing no one else sees it: If a player wants to leave and go compete immediately within conference it’s simply bad for competition in the sport in general. Imagine a world where Iowa State’s Breece Hall just decides he will transfer to Oklahoma, what if Michael Crabtree chose to leave Texas Tech, only to be immediately eligible and start opposite of Jordan Shipley in 2009? See, I already can tell you do not like this.
At the end of the day, if the rule were to change it would be more beneficial to Oklahoma and Texas. Do you really want to end up in a world where Big 12 standouts can just pull a Kevin Durant? There must be a safety valve in place to prevent such a precedent to be set. Inevitably I believe the Big 12 will fold to public pressure.
But when your favorite player comes to Oklahoma or Texas, just remember, you told Lincoln Riley he was in the wrong today.
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