“I’m sincerely honored:” Lincoln Riley releases statement after being named OU’s head football coach
NORMAN, Okla. – The man who will replace University of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops as head football coach released a statement on the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Officials confirmed to NewsChannel 4 that University of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops is planning to retire.
Source say that it is “his choice” and “his timing,” adding that current offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, 33, will take over as head coach of the team.
Stoops is the winningest football coach in Oklahoma history and has been the head coach of the team for the past 18 years.
The 56-year-old coach gained national attention when he led the Sooners to an undefeated season, which ended with a national championship title win over Florida State.
Under his leadership, Stoops has won nine Big 12 titles and tied for another.
During the BCS era, Stoops was the only coach to win a national championship and every BCS bowl game.
Stoops released a statement on his announcement Wednesday afternoon:
“After 18 years at the University of Oklahoma, I’ve decided to step down as the head football coach. I understand there has been some speculation about my health. My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins. The program is in tremendous shape. We have outstanding players and coaches and are poised to make another run at a Big 12 and national championship. We have new state-of-the-art facilities and a great start on next year’s recruiting class. The time is now because Lincoln Riley will provide a seamless transition as the new head coach, capitalizing on an excellent staff that is already in place and providing familiarity and confidence for our players. Now is simply the ideal time for me and our program to make this transition.
The coaching life is like a relay race and I’m thankful for my turn and am confident as I pass the baton. Carol and I intend on staying in Norman — it is our home. I will be available to Coach Riley and the athletic department in any manner. Thank you all for a lifetime of memories we shared together of 10 conference championships, the 2000 national championship, strong relationships with players and coaches, and the great Oklahoma football fans. Boomer!”
Now, Lincoln Riley will take over as the Sooners’ 22nd head coach.
He has spent the previous two seasons as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, presiding over one of the nation’s most powerful offenses.
In 2016, OU led the nation in passing efficiency rating and pass completion percentage, and ranked second in total offense, third in scoring offense and third down conversion percentage.
Riley was named the recipient of the 2015 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach following his first season in Norman.
The offense ranked fourth nationally in scoring and seventh in total offense.
Over the past two seasons with Riley as offensive coordinator, the Sooners have the highest quarterback rating in the country with a combined mark of 179.8.
Riley came to Oklahoma after five seasons at East Carolina where he held titles of assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2014) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2010-13). The Pirates set more than 50 team or individual school offensive records in his five seasons with the program. His five squads recorded the top five passing seasons in school history and the top four positions for total offense in a season.
Prior to East Carolina, Riley spent seven seasons at his alma mater, Texas Tech, where he was part of seven bowl teams and five bowl wins. During that span, Red Raiders quarterbacks won NCAA passing titles in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. After serving as a student assistant from 2003-05, he was promoted to offensive assistant in 2006 and wide receivers coach in 2007. He moved to coaching inside receivers in 2008 and 2009 and called plays for Texas Tech as interim coordinator in the 2010 Alamo Bowl.
Riley released the following statement after the announcement he would be named head coach:
“I’m sincerely honored to be given this opportunity to be the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma. I want to thank Coach Stoops for bringing me here two years ago and making me part of the Sooner family. He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, at any level. I’m absolutely thankful for our friendship and for the mentorship he has provided.
Coaching at Oklahoma is a dream come true for me and my family. I am extremely grateful to President Boren, Joe Castiglione, Chairman Bennett and the OU Board of Regents for believing in me and affording me this opportunity. I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that Coach Stoops and so many others before him have instilled in this great program.”
Last month, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved a three-year contract extension for Riley.
Riley’s contract was set to run through the end of the 2019 season, making it the longest contract extension for an OU football assistant coach. The contract extension also made Riley one of the highest paid assistant coaches in the country, earning $1.3 million per season the next three years.
Details on his new salary as the head coach have not been released at this time.
OU President David Boren said that while he was sad to hear about Stoops’ decision, he believes Riley will be a worthy successor.
“It was with sadness that I learned of the decision of Coach Bob Stoops to step down as head football coach at Oklahoma. Coach Stoops has made a critically important and lasting contribution to the OU football program. He has led to its restoration as one of the top programs in the nation. His success has helped provide the momentum for major new facilities like the improvements and expansion of the football stadium. Because of his unquestioned personal integrity and high standards, he is one of the most admired college football coaches in America.
His decision to step down at this time was motivated partly by his belief that he has the right successor already in place in the program, Lincoln Riley, and he wanted to pass the leadership on at a time of strength for the program. His decision is typical of his unselfishness and always putting first the best interest of the players and program.
I personally value him as a person and as a friend. I’m glad that Coach Stoops will remain an active member of our university family and will continue to serve the athletics department and be of help to our new head coach. The departure of Coach Stoops as head coach is a bittersweet time. I agree completely that we have exactly the right person already in place to take the helm. Coach Riley enjoys the complete confidence of the administration and university community. He has the talent and personal character to be a worthy successor to Coach Stoops.”
The first game of the season is set for Sept. 2 at Gaylord Family- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium against UTEP.
STATEMENT FROM OU VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JOE CASTIGLIONE:
“It is rare in today’s world that a president, athletics director and head football coach can work together for 18 successful seasons. Bob Stoops stands as one of the premier legendary figures in one of the most storied programs in college football history, yet he is still best identified by his humble nature and team approach that refused to get caught up in stature. That’s the reason Bob is such a great leader. He has great vision and great accomplishment, but it never changed who he is as a man and a coach.
“Working alongside him has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Few athletics directors get a coach who better combines success and cohesiveness like Bob Stoops. I can’t help but feel somewhat sad today because Bob has been such a constant in my life, and that’s why I am so thankful that he will remain with us. He will continue to do great things for OU.
“At the same time, I am thrilled that Lincoln Riley is in position to take over as the head coach. He is widely regarded as one of the brightest minds in college football and there is no question in my mind that he is the complete package. Our program is in very good hands. Lincoln and I have a great relationship and I can’t wait to embark on this new era with him. I am sure our fans share my enthusiasm. We celebrate a tremendous legacy today and because of what Bob did here and the coach we have identified, we look forward to our future with great optimism.”
STATEMENT FROM CHAIRMAN OF THE OU BOARD OF REGENTS CLAYTON BENNETT:
“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Bob Stoops for what he has done for the football program at the University of Oklahoma and just as importantly, the school and state at large. From the moment he stepped on campus, Bob has led with dignity and professionalism that is justly admired throughout sports. During his time at Oklahoma he not only built upon our tradition, but moved it forward in a way that has made Sooners everywhere proud. I wish Bob, Carol and their family the best of luck with the next chapter, we are forever thankful for the contributions they have made to Oklahoma.
“Lincoln Riley has asserted himself as one of the brightest young minds in all of college football, and the results over the past two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Sooners speak for themselves. He has embraced the culture of being an Oklahoma Sooner, and I’m looking forward to watching him on the sidelines this coming fall as he leads our team. I want to congratulate Lincoln, Caitlin and their family on this exciting time.”