Posted on June 24, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When longtime Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops stepped down, a door was opened for someone to walk through—which Lincoln Riley did. Expectations are often muted when a longtime, successful head coach steps down. But with an obvious candidate on hand and ready to step in (Riley), expectations remained high for the Sooners—and with good reason.
Riley had been the team’s offensive coordinator for the last two seasons and was the highest paid assistant coach in the country. When he got the promotion last year, his pay was bumped up to $3.1 million. After taking the team to the CFP Semifinals last season, you could say he deserved to get a bump in pay—which he has.
Riley will make an average of $5 million a season over the next five years. The University has signed him to a new $25 milion, five-year contract.
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“Coach Riley has handled the whole transition and leading, I think, in a very special way,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said via the USAToday. He went on to say that the school recognized the importance of continuity in the coaching staff and remaining competitive in the marketplace.
However, they may have jumped the gun by committing to Riley so quickly.
Yes, as the offensive coordinator, he deserves a lot of credit for the success of the team’s offense. He is probably responsible for recruiting some of the players. But overall, he inherited a team that greatness was expected of already. All he had to do last season was not rock the boat. Accomplish that and he was destined to have a shot at the CFB Playoffs.
Does not messing things up warrant such a nice pay raise?
The Sooners are far from a lock to replicate their success this season. Their quarterback picture remains unfocused. According to reports, Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall played well in the spring. Murray is expected to win the job but he is going to be a one and done. Next year he’ll be playing in the Oakland A’s minor league system.
Other than the questions at quarterback, the Sooners offense is in good shape. But if the offense falters at all, the team could be in trouble. The Baker Mayfield-led unit was able to make up for a lackluster defense. The defensive front should be tough. But the Sooners are going to have to lean on some young guys in the secondary.
While the Sooners have some holes to fill, they are still heavily favored to win the Big 12 again (3/2 as of June 1).
If they do, Riley will have led the team to victory once again with a group that he largely inherited. If the University was smart, they would have waited at least three years in before giving him a raise. That way he has a proven track record as a head coach and will have earned a nice raise. Then they could say the team’s success is due to Riley and isn’t a by-product of the Bob Stoops Era.