Lincoln Riley: QB decommitment a coincidence, not sign OU coach is leaving

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Lincoln Riley of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates the Big 12 Championship after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 41-17 at AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Lincoln Riley of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates the Big 12 Championship after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 41-17 at AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

For some time now, Lincoln Riley’s name has been bandied around as a coaching candidate in which NFL teams have a great deal of interest.

Related Story. Will Lincoln Riley stay put, or part ways?. light

Most of the speculation has centered around the head coaching job for the Dallas Cowboys. For over a year now, rumors have run hot and heavy that if the the Cowboys were to part ways with longtime head coach Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones and Co. would go after Riley as a replacement.

And the Cowboys weren’t the only NFL team reported to have an interest in the Oklahoma head coach.

The 2019 NFL regular season ended last weekend, and several head coaches have been dismissed this week, as is generally the case every year at this time when the season ends and the coaching carousel gets set in motion.

It does not appear that any team has contacted Riley directly for an interview, but following Oklahoma’s disappointing performance against LSU last Saturday in the College Football Playoff national semifinals he said an NFL coaching job is not in his plan at this time.

For Sooner fans looking for a stronger commitment, however, The Oklahoma coach’s qualifier, not at this time, seemingly left the door open a crack that such a plan is not necessarily out of consideration at some future time.

In a week where the final shoe has dropped in several NFL cities, we now have what looks like the final nail in the coffin regarding Garrett’s coaching future with the Cowboys.

ESPN is reporting that “Garrett’s time with the Cowboys is coming to an end,” although there has been no official word from Cowboys officials.

If Garrett’s nine-year tenure as Dallas head coach is indeed done, they won’t waste much time reaching out to potential replacements, given that other NFL franchises are already actively engaged in searches for a new head coach.

Sports Illustrated posted an article on its website on Thursday reporting that five-star quarterback recruit Brock Vandagriff may have known that Riley would not be at Oklahoma when he arrived as part of the Sooners 2021 recruiting class.

SI staff writer Mike Fisher reported that Vandagriff, the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2021 class told Sports Illustrated that he would not go to Oklahoma if Riley was not his coach.

"“This is neither a scoop or a prediction,” Fisher wrote. “It’s just an observation: The Cowboys don’t have to be in a hurry to do anything with Garrett…and Riley doesn’t have to hurry to do anything, either, including hurrying to conduct interviews.”"

Earlier this week, the Georgia native decommitted from Oklahoma. He had been committed to the Sooners since last June and was one of three recruits in OU’s 2021 class.

Does Vandagriff know something that the rest of us don’t about Riley’s future. Is that possibly why the Cowboys’ organization has been dragging out its discussions with and decision regarding Garrett’s future with America’s Team? And why Riley is steering clear and remaining silent on all of this?

Probably not, but SI’s Fisher clearly is trying to connect the dots and fuel further speculation about Riley’s future in Norman.

To me, the Vandagriff’s decision to decommit from the Sooners speaks more to recruiting pressure being applied by Georgia and Florida and the opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the SEC and play closer to home.

Fisher probably was right about one thing, though. Riley did know something he wasn’t immediately letting on to when he learned that Vandagriff had broken off his commitment and reopened his recruitment. The third-year Oklahoma head coach had it on good authority that the Sooners were going to gain a commitment several days later from four-star quarterback recruit Chandler Morris out of Dallas Highland Park High School and that he would be on campus a year earlier, as a member of Oklahoma’s national top-10 2020 class

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that at some time in his coaching future, Riley might like to try his hand coaching at the next level. But I truly don’t see that coming anytime soon.

If and when that happens, it won’t be about the money. His compensation at Oklahoma is no worse, and perhaps even better with all the incentives built in, than what he would get as a first-year coach in the NFL. Plus, Riley has made it very clear that is love and passion is college football, and at Oklahoma he is the top man at one of the elite institutions in the history of the college game.

It’s easy to see why Riley’s name pops up in NFL coaching conversations. He is a master strategist and tactician when it comes to football offenses. His record speaks for itself: Three consecutive Big 12 championships (and two more while he was OU offensive coordinator), three straight College Football Playoff appearances (and one other when he was OC), coaching back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, plus a third who was a Heisman finalist. The Sooners are 58-8 since Riley arrived at Oklahoma (36-6 as head coach).

Who wouldn’t be interested in tapping into that?

Next. Playoff loss to LSU no ordinary beatdown. dark

Rest easy, Sooner fans. Lincoln Riley isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.