CONFIRMED: Lincoln Riley to Oklahoma
The Sunday night report that East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was headed to University of Oklahoma to coach in the same capacity was confirmed to Inside ECU Sports Monday afternoon. Riley, 31, brought the Pirates’ offense to new heights during his five-year tenure in Greenville with the uptempo, “Air Raid” offense that he will look to implement with the Sooners. According to the report Sunday night by Oklahoma television reporter Dean Blevins, Riley was given positive reviews by his former head coach at Texas Tech, Mike Leach, who brought him on originally as a walk-on quarterback for the Red Raiders, and Hal Mumme. Riley was promoted to wide receivers coach by Leach at 23 years old and in that capacity coached Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Michael Crabtree. After Leach was relieved of his head coaching duties in 2009 prior to Texas Tech’s Alamo Bowl matchup with Michigan State, McNeill, who was the interim coach for the game, had Riley call plays. In what can be seen now as an audition for an offensive coordinator position, Riley excelled as the Red Raiders rolled 570 yards of total offense and went on to whip Michigan State, 31-13. Shortly later, McNeill was soon hired at his alma mater and brought Riley along with him to be East Carolina’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In his five years, the Pirates enjoyed their most prolific passing seasons in school history and their most illustrious passer, Shane Carden, who is the school’s all-time leader in passing yards. In Riley’s offense, Justin Hardy also surpassed former Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record for career catches. Although the gaudy passing numbers will always attract the most attention, what Riley’s offenses have done on the ground might be his most noteworthy accomplishment. Unlike Leach’s versions of the “Air Raid,” Riley’s Pirates were balanced and produced an equally effective running attack to go with the stellar passing game. Former ECU running back Vintavious Cooper rushed for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013. Prior to last season, Riley garnered offers from a slew of high-profile schools that included North Carolina and Notre Dame, but turned them down in order to stay in Greenville. Kentucky reportedly met with Riley too after the Pirates’ regular season finale, but decided to hire West Virginia’s Shannon Dawson as its coordinator instead. The vacancy at Oklahoma was created earlier this month when coach Bob Stoops dismissed co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell following the Sooners’ dismal 40-6 loss to Clemson in Citrus Bowl. Inside ECU Sports has reached out to Riley several times, requesting an interview, but those requests were not fulfilled.
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