Browns coaching rumors: Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley says he’s doesn’t have the NFL ‘itch’ right now
The Cleveland Browns fired coach Hue Jackson on Monday, which means one thing and one thing only: the Lincoln Riley to Cleveland speculation is about to go nuts.
While Riley still has the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners in contention for a Big 12 title and a possible playoff berth, there are bound to be questions about his future in Norman. It only makes sense as the Browns took former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he’s now the team’s starter. Riley is credited with helping make Mayfield into a Heisman Trophy winner and the top pick, so this math isn’t complicated here. The Cleveland Browns are going to be interested in Riley. In fact, he’s likely the top name on their board.
He’s clearly the top name on the boards of NFL media and fans, as Riley’s name quickly became a trending topic on Twitter following the news of Hue Jackson’s firing.
As luck would have it, shortly after the Jackson announcement, Riley had his weekly press conference and was asked about his interest in the Browns job.
“The truth is for me, I love Oklahoma,” Riley said. “I love coaching here. I love coaching college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now.”
Riley may not have the itch right now, but that won’t stop NFL teams from trying to scratch their Riley itch. As Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer documented back in June, plenty of NFL coaches made their way to Norman over the offseason to pick Riley’s brain. Odds are general managers and owners will soon follow as Riley continues to lead one of the most potent offenses in college football.
The question is whether or not the 35-year old Riley will be interested in an NFL job should the opportunity present itself. The former Texas Tech QB has been coaching since 2003, but all of that coaching has been done on the college level. He began as a student assistant with Texas Tech in 2003 before eventually becoming the team’s wide receivers coach. He then followed Ruffin McNeill — Oklahoma’s new defensive coordinator — to East Carolina in 2010 to become his offensive coordinator. After five seasons with the Pirates, Riley was brought to Norman by Bob Stoops. Stoops wanted Riley to fix his offense and bring it back to the level it was at when he won a national title at Oklahoma, and Riley did just that. After two seasons as offensive coordinator, he replaced Stoops as head coach.
And now the NFL, which has finally decided to step out from the dark ages of offensive football and move toward the light, will come for Riley. We don’t know what Riley will choose to do, but one thing is certain: Riley will be getting a raise out of this.
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