In less than a year, Lincoln Riley went from small-conference assistant to a candidate – token at the very least – for an SEC head coaching position. He turned around the Oklahoma offense, which helped guide the Sooners to the College Football Playoff.
He has been recently linked to many different jobs, most notably South Carolina.
His players aren’t surprised.
“He absolutely deserves it,” Oklahoma center Ty Darlington said. “It was very obvious, very early, to me that the level of coach that he was, he was special. . . . I know we won’t be able to hold on to him forever, before too long, but I also was very confident that he wasn’t leaving us. I don’t want to speak too soon. We still have games to play and all that.”
Riley became the youngest winner of the Broyles Award, given to the top assistant in the country, earlier this month. He told Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World that he’s certainly not in a hurry to leave the Sooners.
He’s also played a huge role in turning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield into the fourth-leading vote getter for the Heisman Trophy.
Like Darlington, Mayfield had no worry that Riley wouldn’t be around for his final season.
“Not at all, that’s just not the type of guy he is,” said Mayfield, who threw for 3,389 yards and scored 42 total touchdowns. “That’s why I trust him so much. He’s not gonna leave here. He knows and I know that we have unfinished business. He came here to win a national championship and I did, too. We’ll see after the season what happens and where we end up. I love him here and don’t expect him to go anywhere, but if he gets a good opportunity I don’t blame him for taking it. But he’s at a pretty good place right now.”