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Lincoln Riley: ‘There Was a Time We Weren’t Going to Take’ Caleb Williams at Oklahoma

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California

The Crimson-colored glasses have been off for a while and the folks in and around Norman, Oklahoma, have known for quite some time now that former head coach Lincoln Riley isn’t exactly the most straightforward and honest person out there.

There have been several instances when Riley has said or done something that catches the entire country off guard. Just hours before taking the job at USC, Riley was on record as the coach at Oklahoma implying that he wasn’t going anywhere, saying “I’m not going to be the next coach at LSU.”

It wasn’t technically a lie, but, c’mon Lincoln.


Then there was the whole spiel about Oklahoma fans being crazy and trying to break into his house after he left Norman, which local police said never happened.

What about when Riley claimed that the strength of the program at Oklahoma during his tenure was the defense? Laughable, but still something that came out of his mouth.

It appears that the head coach at USC has a knack for stretching the truth in an attempt to control the narrative, and he’s been caught saying some pretty ridiculous things over the years. But what about this latest tidbit about Caleb Williams during an interview with the Pat McAfee Show?

In speaking with McAfee about Caleb Williams’ transition into the NFL, Riley divulged that one of the things he likes most about the 2022 Heisman winner is his mindset.


“The thing I’ve always appreciated about [Caleb Williams] is he’s always thinking about the next step and it’s always the big picture,” Riley said. “At Oklahoma, there was a time in the beginning where we weren’t going to take him and he said, ‘Fine, I’ll just walk on.’ Like, that’s his mindset. It’s always about that next step and so he’s ready for this. He’s excited for it and we’re hoping he ends up in a great situation.”

Is Riley lying through his teeth again? While it might seem like another outlandish claim from the pride of Muleshoe, Texas, this one is actually a legitimate claim.

There was a time when Riley and the Sooners were going to pass on the future No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. At one point in Williams’ recruitment, Riley felt good about what he had in five-star quarterback commit Brock Vandergriff.


His evaluation of Vandergriff led Riley to feel good enough about the quarterback room in Norman that offering Williams a scholarship wasn’t in the cards. As things turned out though, Vandergriff would flip to Georgia, and OU would go with their “backup plan,” the five-star talent out of Gonzaga High School in Washington D.C.

Riley was saved from one of the biggest mistakes of his career at that moment, as Vandergriff has been little more than a career backup to this point, while Williams was arguably the best football player in the country over each of the last two seasons.

Talk about a lucky break.

So, while this story doesn’t add to Riley’s laundry list of little white lies, it does make for one heck of a “what-if” proposition.

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