Lincoln Riley begins his fourth season today as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
With 12 wins in each of his first three seasons leading the Sooner program, the 37-year-old head coach’s 36 wins is the most by a Sooner football coach in the first three seasons on the job in the school’s illustrious history.
Barry Switzer won 32 games in his first three seasons as the Sooners’ head coach and owns the best three-year winning percentage of all the OU head coaches (.969). Bob Stoops also won 31 games in his first three years on the Sooner sidelines and Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma teams won 28 games in his first three seasons.
Not only are Riley’s 36 wins in his first three seasons the most in Oklahoma, and even Big 12 history, they are the third most in college football history. Only two other college coaches have won more football games in their first three years than Riley and both occurred over 100 years ago. Walter Camp posted a 41-2 record at Yale from 1898-90, and George Woodruff of Penn was 39-4 between 1892 and 1984.
Larry Coker at Miami (2001-03) and Chris Peterson at Boise State (2006-08), were one win shy of Riley in their first three seasons. One of those wins by Peterson was a 43-42 overtime stunner over Bob Stoops’ Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Riley’s three-year head-coaching resume also features three consecutive Big 12 championships, three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and, oh yeah, two Heisman Trophy winners and a Heisman runner-up.
In the five seasons that Riley has been associated with Oklahoma football (two as offensive coordinator and three as head coach), the Sooners have gone 58-10, including five Big 12 titles and four College Football Playoff appearances.