Looking for a bad bet? Try this one. According to Odds Shark, Lincoln Riley is the odds on favorite to become the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Team owner Jerry Jones confirmed on Sunday that the franchise was parting ways with Jason Garrett. While the news of Garrett leaving Big D was pretty much already known across the sports landscape, the confirmation from Jones officially set off the firestorm of speculation that comes with a high-profile NFL coaching search.
Why Would Lincoln Riley Leave Oklahoma?
To be fair, this isn’t exactly a closed issue for Riley and the Sooners. You’d have to think that if Jerry Jones calls (which he will) then Riley would listen (which he should).
Why? Well…that’s an easy answer. Lincoln Riley is a native Texan and the Cowboys are America’s Team! You don’t grow up in the state of Texas, especially in the 90’s, and not know the power of the star on the helmet. It isn’t Jones that would be the attraction, it would be Roger Staubach, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, Tom Landry, and Jimmy Johnson. Just the opportunity to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys in terms of success on the field is the dream of every kid who ever tossed the football around their backyard in the Lone Star State.
The question now would be; Is that still Lincoln Riley’s dream? I’m betting that it isn’t.
The NFL May Want Riley But Does Riley Want The NFL?
Lincoln Riley has a pretty good thing going on in Norman, Oklahoma and I’m sure you’re aware of that. Jerry Jones sure is and that’s why he’s going to pick up the phone. I don’t think Riley’s an NFL guy though.
There are some guys that you just look at and you know that they’re built for the NFL. Baylor’s Matt Rhule is one of those guys. From the time he arrived in Waco I’ve felt like he’s just passing time until the right NFL gig comes along. You don’t get that vibe with Riley. He loves coaching one of the most prestigious programs in college football. He loves recruiting. He loves winning, and he loves a challenge. You get a stronger feeling with Lincoln Riley that wants to get over the hump in the College Football Playoff more than he wants to walk the sideline of a professional organization.
The $6.5 Million Dollar Question
On January 30, 2019 the Oklahoma Board of Regents approved a 5-year 32.5 million dollar contract for Lincoln Riley, equaling a $6.5 million dollar annual salary. That’s a half a million dollars more per year than Jason Garrett was making and in the same ballpark as Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, and Carolina’s Ron Rivera.
Would Riley walk away from a job that he loves for a franchise that hasn’t reached the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season? I think he’s already answered that question.
“If it was 20, 30 years ago, where there were some major differences, maybe,” Riley said when asked about the NFL following the 2018 season. “…The way the college game has evolved, financially it’s a lot better situation now when you compare it to NFL teams. We’re at a place where we’re happy, and we don’t take that for granted. I love coaching at Oklahoma, love coaching college football.”
Looking for something more recent to ease your mind? The day after Oklahoma’s loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl Riley made the strongest pledge of allegiance to date to the Sooner Nation.
“This is where I want to coach and this is where I want to coach for a long time,” Riley said. “I’m not ever going to say never because I don’t ever want to be that guy, but it’s hard to envision me wanting to leave this place unless something about our setup here changed that I thought wasn’t good for the program or our future.”
He may be at even money to take the Dallas job, but that’s a fool’s bet if you ask me. You’d have better luck hitting on a 17 at the Blackjack table.
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