Big 12 News

Lincoln Riley Again Denies Oklahoma’s Move to SEC Impacted His Decision to Leave

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at West Virginia

There are now three guarantees in life: Death, taxes and Lincoln Riley forever denying the idea that he left Oklahoma because of the program’s eventual move to the SEC.

“I heard the whole SEC narrative,” Riley told CBS Sports. “To me, the SEC has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the program that you’re at and the position you think you can get to.”

Riley has made this statement before, most recently in The Players Tribune.


In that piece, Riley called USC the “right job at the right time” for he and his family. In many more words, Riley tried to clear the air and end the questions about his reasoning for leaving Oklahoma, a model of consistency over the last two decades, for USC, which has fired three coaches in the last 10 seasons.

The stunning news broke last summer that Oklahoma and Texas would be leaving for the SEC in 2025, and throughout the 2021 season, it’s fair to say that Riley certainly appeared distracted at points. What can we point that back to? There’s no way of knowing for sure, but it was noticed by Oklahoma media and fans.

Riley now takes over a USC program that is in the Pac-12, a far inferior product to the SEC and the Big 12.

Lincoln Riley faced an SEC foe in each of the four seasons that he coached a bowl game at Oklahoma. In those games, he was 1-3 and was outscored by an average of 54.0-36.6 in the losses.

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