The college football world is still in shock with Sunday's news that Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley out of nowhere decided to leave for the same job at Southern Cal. Reportedly, Riley started feeling a disconnect with the OU administration after the school decided to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in a couple of years. It certainly should be a lot easier for Riley to get the Trojans into the College Football Playoff in the weak Pac-12 than it would have been in the ridiculously hard SEC. SportsLine offers odds on Riley's replacement at Oklahoma.
There's no question that the Oklahoma job is an excellent one. 247Sports' Carl Reed reported Sunday that LSU had offered Riley $12 million to come there and that Oklahoma was trying to match that number. USC surely offered more than $12 million to poach Riley.
OU is now on its first head coaching search since the program hired Bob Stoops in time for the 1999 season – and it better act fast because several top recruits already have decommitted and may follow Riley to Los Angeles. A coach hasn't left Oklahoma and coached the following season since Chuck Fairbanks departed for the New England Patriots after the 1972 college season.
Stoops will coach the Sooners in the team's bowl game, which is still TBA. Could the 61-year-old get the itch to return full-time? It seems more likely that if Oklahoma hires a Stoops that it would be Bob's brother Mark, who has done a fine job at Kentucky and obviously knows the SEC well for the Sooners' impeding move there. Bob Stoops is going to have some sort of influence on the OU coaching search if he doesn't take the job because he is royalty at Oklahoma. Bill Snyder "retired" from Kansas State for a while only to return.
Southern Cal apparently was ready to hire Iowa State's Matt Campbell if it couldn't get Riley, and Campbell could well replace Riley in Norman. Perhaps it wouldn't be as awkward leaving for another Big 12 school because it will be going to the SEC by 2025. Campbell's contract buyout is a whopping $28.3 million. He could be in play at LSU.
Would former Oklahoma quarterback and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel leave Tennessee after just one season? Heupel was fired by Bob Stoops in 2014 and replaced by Riley, and CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd wrote that there is "believed to be some bad blood stemming from that move."
Several schools in the past have tried to lure Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and OU might be able to do so as he was Stoops' defensive coordinator from 1999-2011. While Clemson's offense struggled this season, the defense remained one of college football's best.
Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell was mentioned for the openings at USC and LSU and has the Bearcats poised to become the first Group of 5 school to reach the College Football Playoff if UC can beat Houston this weekend in the AAC title game.
ESPN's Adam Schefter on Sunday reported that Oklahoma would target Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who came from Texas Tech. Why on earth would Kingsbury leave a great NFL job and a superstar QB in former Sooner Kyler Murray to return to college?
Nevada coach Jay Norvell served as Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops from 2008-2014 and Norvell's star is rising thanks to his work with Wolf Pack QB Carson Strong, who might be the first QB taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
One candidate we can apparently rule out: Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. He is going with Riley to USC. Grinch recently interviewed for the head coaching position at Texas Tech that eventually went to Baylor assistant Joey McGuire.
Other names being bandied about: Baylor's Dave Aranda (who reportedly is close to signing a rich new extension with Baylor), Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin, Oregon's Mario Cristobal and South Carolina's Shane Beamer. Only Beamer has ties to OU as he was an assistant head coach from 2018-20.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who will be the next full-time Oklahoma coach?
- Brent Venables +250
- Lane Kiffin +500
- Mark Stoops +500
- Matt Campbell +600
- Luke Fickell +700
- Jay Norvell +800
- Bob Stoops +900
- Josh Heupel +1000
- Shane Beamer +1100
- Mario Cristobal +1500
- Dave Aranda +1500
- Kliff Kingsbury +2000
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