All the talk this week is about Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield playing against his former team in Texas Tech.
But he’s not the only big part of OU’s program trying to deal with emotions. OU has several coaches with ties to the Red Raiders and this will be the first time for offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to go through this experience.
Riley first became part of the Tech program in 2002 when he chose to walk-on at quarterback. After a year of running the scout team, Riley gave up the game as a player and took his shot as a student coach.
“It was an interesting time in my life,” Riley said. “It was a fork in the road, and I didn’t know which way I was going to go with it. I decided to go that way, and it was an unknown for me, going into the world of coaching.”
Everybody has their starting point, and Lubbock was that place for Riley. He said it’s where he learned what college football, what recruiting, what this offense was like and how to handle players.
And it gave him the itch. After those first few seasons, Riley knew being a coach was something he was going to pursue the rest of his life.
“I knew I would stay involved with the game and probably coach,” Riley said. “I thought I would be a high school coach and was really excited about that. When that opportunity came, I knew it wasn’t one I would probably get again.”
Riley’s challenge this week is two-fold. He can’t get caught up in his own emotion playing against a school that has given him and his family so many great memories. But he also has to make sure Mayfield stays within himself.
Mayfield’s first half of the season has been marked by his decision making and his maturity. But no game is going to bring out the emotion in him like this one. It will be up to Riley to make sure Mayfield doesn’t revert to his previous ways.
“Coaching is different than playing,” Riley said. “There people there that I’m close to and people there that I’m very close to. In coaching, you go through it enough that you always know somebody on the other side. You root for them in every game. I want Tech to win a bunch of games – just not this one.”