NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Sooner head football coach Lincoln Riley is leaving the University of Oklahoma.

The bombshell announcement dropped Sunday that he’s going to be the next head coach at the University of Southern California.

“As a student, as a football fan, I’m not a huge fan of it,” said student Ben Thomas. “I love Lincoln Riley. I think he’s done great things here.”

Riley has been the OU coach for five seasons, going 55-10, with four Big 12 championships and three appearances in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Surprise, sadness, and confusion are just some of the emotions many students are feeling on OU’s campus.

“I was pretty sad because before coming to Oklahoma, I’m a freshman, I heard about the great things that Lincoln Riley did, so I kind of was shocked to see that he’s leaving,” said student Ahmed Diallo. “So, I won’t be able to see him coach OU again, which I wanted to see before I came here.”

The news of Riley’s departure is sort of a one-two punch to the gut to students on campus.

On Saturday, they lost a close Bedlam game to Oklahoma State. Then Sunday, they learn about Riley taking the USC head football coaching position. 

“It’s going to be tough to see him go,” said student Mitchell Orcholski. “It was a tough loss yesterday, but I wish him the best and I’m looking forward to see who we pick up.”

Some student fans, such as Ben Thomas, now have eyes fixed on the future.

“I kind of just am surprised by the move, but if I’m OU, there’s a lot of great head coach candidates out there, Luke Fickell, Brent Venables, and even Bob Stoops,” he said. “There’s a lot of great options out there and they really need to get a slam dunk hire in here. OU really needs to figure it out quick, too.”

“My time at OU has included some of the most special years of my life and my family’s lives. I had so many great memories and made so many great friends that we’ll take with us forever. A lot of things that we were a part of here, I’m incredibly proud of — the success on the field, the success off the field, the players. Proud of the staff. Proud of the way we worked so well with the university and our administration. We’ve been able to have two phenomenal leaders in President Harroz and Joe Castiglione, and they have been everything I could ever ask for in this role and more.

Leaving OU was probably the most difficult decision of my life. OU is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. That’s not going to change. It’s not going to change in the SEC, it’s not going to change with another head coach. It’s stood the test of time and it’s going to continue to do so. This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge, and I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that.
“We’ll leave here with fond memories. It’ll be very difficult to say goodbye to Norman, but it will always be a part of our family, our history. I’ll be a Sooner fan as long as I live — a fan of this state, of this university and the people here. I love them all very much.”

Lincoln Riley

Bob Stoops has been named the interim head coach while OU searches for Riley’s replacement.