Just ahead of the Rose Bowl, Lincoln Riley made a few comments that began to fuel the rumor mill. Asked about the challenges of taking over the Oklahoma Sooners Football Program, Riley said, “Obviously, my situation was a little unique. Probably the biggest challenge was starting in early June. Whatever changes we did want to make, you felt like you had to get them done pretty quickly.”
— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) January 2, 2018
However, the comments didn’t stop there. Continuing to focus on the future of the program, the coach mentioned, “I think there will some more changes that we make that we feel like, because of the timing, it wasn’t appropriate to change maybe something bigger in June. That’s maybe something that happens down the line after the season.”
Running with the quote, the internet began to speculate the future role of Mike Stoops as Defensive Coordinator at the University of Oklahoma and rightfully so. The heartbreaking 54-48 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff marked the fifth time this season the Sooners surrendered more than 35 points. Secondarily, Oklahoma finished in the middle of the pack in total defense as well as scoring defense.
Despite the numbers, Riley publicly addressed the rumors while backing Stoops as a coach. “Mike is a really good coach,” said Riley to Oklahoma DieHards, “I have a lot of confidence in him, as I do our whole staff. To do what this staff and this program did this year with all the changes and all that, it’s unprecedented. People better remember that, too.”
If staff turnover is what you wanted, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, it isn’t going to happen! Straying from the scheme and defensive changes as a whole, Riley instead pointed toward the level of talent being the culprit. Holding true to the old saying that defense wins championships, Oklahoma must look to bring in physical players on the defensive side of the ball through recruiting and stop looking to remove coaches.