Riley had the chance to work with an old friend as well. Coaching with Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh once again might have been a major selling point for Riley picking the Sooners.
“There’s not a better guy to work with in this offense than him,” Riley said.
Riley and Bedenbaugh first coached together more than a decade ago when Riley was a student assistant at Texas Tech and Bedenbaugh was coaching running backs for the Red Raiders.
No surprise, Bedenbaugh brought a toughness even then.
“They are going to be the toughest, baddest group out there all the time,” Riley said. “He was even like that when I was young, and he was the running backs coach at Texas Tech. He could those guys like they were O-Linemen.”
Bedenbaugh eventually graduated to offensive line coach, a much more suitable place for him, and led the lines at Texas Tech, West Virginia and Arizona before coming to Oklahoma a reuniting with Riley.
Riley knows that the Sooners’ offense needs a stable offensive line, something his old friend provides.
“With all the skills guys coming up, you quickly learn that you’d better have a damn good offensive line coach or you have no chance,” he said. “. . . It’s critical, and there’s a lot to it. And to have a guy who has coached in it with a lot of different coordinators and a lot of different places, a guy that’s played in it, there’s probably not a more experienced offensive line coach for this system than him.
“It’s as big as it gets.”