“I was hired here because I’m ready,” OU’s new head coach Lincoln Riley writes letter to fans
NORMAN, Okla. – With several months until the start of the college football season, many Sooner fans are already wondering what the season will hold under the supervision of a new coach.
Earlier this month, OU head football coach Bob Stoops announced that he was retiring and was handing over the position to offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.
He had spent the previous two seasons as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, presiding over one of the nation’s most powerful offenses.
On Wednesday, Riley wrote an open letter to Sooner fans in ‘The Players’ Tribune.’
In the article, he wrote about his time at Texas Tech and an incident that gained national attention at OU in 2015.
As a video of members of an OU fraternity reciting a racist chant spread online, the university’s football team was one of the first organizations to respond.
“This incident had cut the university deeply, and that was something Coach Stoops recognized as being much more significant than football. Even though it was a critical time for our program football wise, he put practice on the back burner. He gave the players space to process the incident and offered them whatever support they needed. When our players decided to engage in a silent protest, the staff joined them. For two weeks. we put our pads and playbooks away and focused on healing. And as a result, instead of letting this incident be something that tore our program apart, Coach Stoops took control of the situation and used it as an opportunity to bring us closer together,” he wrote.
Riley says that defining moment brought the team closer together and led them to qualify for the College Football Playoff.
“In the past couple of years, I’ve learned a lot from Coach Stoops about what it means to coach at a big-time program. But that right there showed me more than anything what this job entails,” he wrote.
He says that Stoops viewed challenges as a way to make the players better human beings, adding that his connection with the players is what resulted in his long-term success.
Riley says he hopes to continue to build his relationship with the players, along with Coach Stoops and Coach Barry Switzer.
As for recruiting, he says that the university will seek out players who are willing to grow and have bigger dreams than just playing at the University of Oklahoma.
“I was hired here because I’m ready. Coach Stoops knew I was ready. That’s the best endorsement I could ever hope for. I’m not here to usher in a new era of OU success- this is already a championship-level program. I’m just lucky enough to have the opportunity- along with the players, the assistants, the students, the alumni and the fans- to help write the next chapter,” he wrote.