I’m a Sooner fan; I’ve been a Sooner fan my entire life. I’ve donned my crimson and cream every Saturday for as long as I can remember and counted down the days to football season. I’ve seen them win, I’ve seen them lose…but I’ve never seen anything like this.
When the news broke about Lincoln Riley leaving the University of Oklahoma to take the head coaching job at the University of Southern California, I was dumbfounded. How could he do this? The team is literally coming off a huge, disappointing loss at Bedlam and, to add salt to an open wound, he’s leaving?!
Of course, I want to be mature about the whole situation and say, “He’s just doing what’s best for his family” or “This is his decision and his life” but I honestly can’t. Why? Because I’m disappointed in him.
I’m disappointed because, if the reports are true, his players found out through social media first. I find it very hypocritical to say that a team is “a family” and then not break the news yourself. Then (again, if what’s being reported is accurate) to give your team mere minutes to process the news before you leave the room? Inexcusable.
I’m disappointed because it seems as though he couldn’t leave fast enough. Riley is reported to have been at Will Roger’s airport Monday morning at 5:00 to head out to California (with Alex Grinch in tow). Does he loathe this place that much? This is the place that paid him millions and gave him countless opportunities!
I’m disappointed because there were high school seniors around the nation who had committed to coming to OU because of Lincoln. They probably had OU posters, pens, hoodies, and pennants in their room. They’ve most likely been counting down the days to graduation because they couldn’t wait to don their crimson and cream and play for such a great program. Now? Now their futures are up in the air.
I’m disappointed because some of the boys on that team come from unstable homes and backgrounds. They looked up to Riley. Now, he’s just another person who’s given up on them. Great coaches don’t do that.
Listen, I get it. I know that he couldn’t stay at the University of Oklahoma forever. I know it’s “just a game”. But the past two years have been fraught with fear, anger, and anxiety. Some of us live for Saturdays watching college football because it gives us a sense of normalcy and helps us escape the onslaught of bad news we’re inundated with.
I know things change and coaches and players come and go. But to leave like this? This is not bowing out gracefully. This is the equivalent of a guy breaking up with his girlfriend through a text message and walking around the next day with someone new.
Maybe in a few weeks I’ll be able to wish Lincoln well and not feel so betrayed. But for now, I’ll be eating Thanksgiving leftovers and listening to All Too Well on repeat.