Lincoln Riley is a wanted man, and former Sooner head coach Bob Stoops Lincoln Riley is a wanted man, and former Sooner head coach Bob Stoops Lincoln Riley is a wanted man, and former Sooner head coach Bob Stoops

Lincoln Riley is a wanted man, and that’s not all bad for OU

ATLANTA, GA - December 6: Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley speaks at the College Football Playoff Semifinal Head Coaches News Conference on December 6, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - December 6: Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley speaks at the College Football Playoff Semifinal Head Coaches News Conference on December 6, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Lincoln Riley is a wanted man, and former Sooner head coach Bob Stoops is the man responsible for it.

Stoops knew exactly what he was doing when he passed the baton for one of college football’s most-prized programs to his young offensive coordinator 18 months ago. In just two seasons of work at the helm, Riley has led Oklahoma to a 24-3 record, taken the Sooners to two consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and produced back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners.

Oh, and don’t forget about the two top-10 recruiting classes he has delivered in his spare time.

That’s about as good as it gets short of winning a national championship.

Riley has been a head coach just two seasons now, and his reputation precedes him. His name is already coming up all over the place for jobs at the next level, most notably in Cleveland, where head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were dismissed eight games into the season and where, not coincidentally, Riley’s Oklahoma protégé Baker Mayfield is in his rookie season as the Browns’ quarterback.

Green Bay is also looking for a new head coach and there undoubtedly will be others once the 2018 season is concluded. NFL coaches are becoming increasingly enamoured over the explosiveness and high-scoring capability of the college offenses, and Riley is one of the best offensive minds and magicians in the college ranks.

The Sooner head coach proved that at East Carolina before joining Stoops’ OU staff in Norman, and in the four years he has been at Oklahoma, first as offensive coordinator and now as head coach, the Sooners have been an offensive juggernaut, finishing No. 1 in total offense among all FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) teams the past two seasons and No. 2 in 2016.

When the rumors started flying, the week after the Browns fired their head coach, Riley addressed reporters’ questions simply by saying he doesn’t have the itch to think about coaching in the NFL, not right now, at least.

"“I’m never going to be a guy that stands up here and says no way, now how with any of these things ever happening,” the OU head coach said at his weekly press conference the last week in October. “But I know right now I could care less about the NFL.”"

Would he ever consider leaving Oklahoma on his own for a job opportunity and new challenge in the NFL? That would be impossible and somewhat foolish to speculate on right now.

The one thing we do know with certainty right now is that he has no real reason to leave, nor does anyone associated with Oklahoma Sooner football want him to entertain such thoughts.

"“I love Oklahoma,” Riley said. “I love coaching here. I love college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. Don’t know that I ever will.”"

That was a couple of months ago, and things have gotten even better for Riley and OU since then. The Sooners ran the table in November, as they have the last four seasons, going 4-0 and capping off the regular season with a fourth consecutive Big 12 championship. Let’s see, Riley has been a member of the Oklahoma coaching staff for four seasons, each of which has ended with a conference title.

When you’re having that much success, and all the fun that’s attached to it, why would you want a change of scenery?

There have been reports this past week that some of Riley’s peers in the college coaching ranks have been playing off the NFL coaching rumors in talking with recruits who might also be considering Oklahoma leading up to this week’s early National Signing Day.

“They heard that from plenty of coaches out there who seem to be experts on (the subject),” Riley acknowledged in an interview this week with Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World. “I think after sitting down and talking with these guys (recruiting prospects) on where I’m going to be, the direction of this program and where my heart and mind are right now.”

Success begets success, as they say, and when that occurs there are always others who want to tap into that success. That is what is happening with Coach Riley right now, and you can bet there will be plenty of folks continuing to try to get the Sooners’ head coach to switch colors, or at the very least share his magic formula and recipe for success.

Relax, Sooner fans. Coach Riley isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. His increasing notoriety is most warranted and, believe me, that is a fantastic thing for Oklahoma and its storied football program.