Lincoln Riley on leaving Oklahoma: ‘Decision based solely on my willingness to take on a new challenge’

Lincoln Riley said Sunday that his short coaching time in Oklahoma had a special impact on his life as he prepares to take over as head coach at USC.

Riley decided to take the vacant USC job after the team divorced Clay Helton earlier in the season.

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Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks to his players in the second half of a game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, November 27, 2021 in Stillwater, Okla.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks to his players in the second half of a game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, November 27, 2021 in Stillwater, Okla.
(AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki)

“My time at OU has included some of the most special years of my life and my family’s life. I had so many good memories and made so many good friends that we will take with us forever,” Riley said. “Many things that we were a part of here, I’m incredibly proud of – the success on the pitch, the success off the pitch, the players. Proud of the staff. Proud of the way we worked so well. The university and our administration We have been able to have two phenomenal leaders in President Joseph Harroz Jr. and Joe Castiglione, and they have been everything I could ever ask for in this role and more.

Riley said his decision was “personal” in hopes of taking on a new challenge elsewhere.

“Leaving OU was probably the hardest decision of my life. OU is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. It’s not going to change. It’s not going to change in the SEC , it’s not going to change. to change with another head coach. It has stood the test of time and it will continue to do so. This was a personal decision based solely on my willingness to take on a new challenge and I felt it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do it, “he said.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team play against Iowa State during the first half on Saturday, November 20, 2021 in Norman, Okla.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team play against Iowa State during the first half on Saturday, November 20, 2021 in Norman, Okla.
(AP Photo / Alonzo Adams)

LINCOLN RILEY BOLTS OKLAHOMA TO USC

“We leave here with fond memories. It will be very difficult to say goodbye to Norman, but it will always be a part of our family, our history. I will be a Sooner fan for as long as I live – a fan of this state, of this university and the people here. I love them all very much. “

Riley decided to take the USC job after Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday, according to several reports. Riley had previously been associated with NFL jobs and other college football positions. On Saturday, he shot a rumor that he was interested in the LSU job. He said he “would not be the next coach at LSU.”

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team play against Iowa State on Saturday, November 20, 2021 in Norman, Okla.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team play against Iowa State on Saturday, November 20, 2021 in Norman, Okla.
(AP Photo / Alonzo Adams)

Riley took over as Oklahoma’s head coach before the 2017 season. He led the Sooners to three College Football Playoff appearances, but never managed to win a game in the tournament. His team saw the emergence of two Heisman Trophy winners – Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Both players were also No. 1 draft.

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He was 55-10 as head coach and won four major 12 championships.

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