Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley Introduction
Jan. 17, 2015
Head coach Bob Stoops’ opening statement:
“I am excited to introduce to you guys, guys and ladies, the State of Oklahoma, all of the Sooner fans our new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Lincoln is a guy that has had incredible experience here at a young age. I always look at the quality of experience to go with how much experience a guy has.
“First, I had a direction I wanted to go. I felt through the last several years we have kind of gravitated away from where we started here and that was in a Hal Mumme/(Mike) Leach type system with what we’re doing and how we’re moving the football. We had some success with it through the years and just little by little here in the last several years we have kind of slowly drifted away from it.
“I had a goal in mind to get back to running that type of system and I felt I got the absolute best guy to do it. He is a guy that has come up through it, understands it inside and out, and has had success running it. He has been the offensive coordinator and play caller for the last five years at East Carolina. I don’t have to go into all of the statistics. They were in the top five or six in the country in total offense, they are in the top several in third-down conversions on and on. He is a guy that has been putting it together and they have had a bunch of big victories over the last couple of years. A couple of wins against North Carolina State, a couple of big wins against North Carolina with big scores. They beat Virginia Tech, again putting points on the board. I really felt strongly about his background and the success he has had running his system.
“Again, he’s a guy that comes up through a tree that I have had a lot of success with and really believe in and I believe he is the perfect guy to move forward in the direction we want to go. I am very aware, as Lincoln is, the quality of running backs we have here. That will not be a problem. They averaged, I believe, over 160 yards per game rushing a year ago. As bright as Lincoln is, he will find a way to take advantage of the great running backs we have and tailor our offense to the great personnel we have.
“Today is going to be about Lincoln and you guys asking him questions. I will tell you we continue to fill the other two (assistant coaching) jobs. We haven’t yet. I am working hard on it and have a strong idea of where I want to go with that, but I’m not ready to expand on that any further. So here I’ll open it up to Lincoln and you can make a statement and talk a little bit if you have a few remarks and then you guys can fire away at Lincoln. He is going to take the shots here today.”
Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley opening statement:
“It’s absolutely an honor to be here. It’s a little surreal to walk in to this environment and this program. It’s something that I have wanted for a long time. It’s something that my wife and I have been very picky about for the last few years as we have been blessed to have some opportunities. We were looking for a lot of specific things ourselves, like coach said. We were first looking for a great person. I was able to have that with Ruffin McNeil over the last several years at East Carolina and I know what I’m getting into working at Oklahoma with Coach Stoops.
“It’s honestly hard to match it. Coming into a program like this, coming to a place that is very committed to what we are going to be doing offensively were things that were very important to me. Having a chance to getting back close to home was a bonus, too. It’s been a great ride. Things have happened for me quickly. I have worked hard and I have also been very, very fortunate to work for some great people and to learn from some great people. To be in the right place at the right time, things have kind of just timed out for me. I’m very, very humbled. I’m very, very thankful. I’m very, very excited to get to work here. I just can’t wait to get started.”
RILEY – On how he takes advantage of his personnel within his system:
“I think that’s one of the beautiful things of this offense, is that it can become whatever we need it to become. We’ll go recruit certain players for certain positions certainly and we will look at different skill sets but at the same time I don’t think that we need a lot of specific things to make it work. Growing up and learning this from Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen and all of those guys I was able to work with at Texas Tech as I was learning, what I always appreciated was how open-minded they were.
“I think coaches can sometimes be too original with what they are looking for. I think that can limit you because if they personnel doesn’t fit exactly what you’re looking for you could have a little disconnect there. I love the personnel that we have here from what I have been able to see early. I know we have a lot of good players and we are going to continue to bring in a lot of good players. We’re going to take a lot of pride in doing what our guys do well and making sure that our best players touch the ball and that we put our guys in position to make as many plays as they can.”
RILEY – On whether he has a goal of running plays in a certain amount of time:
“No, it’s more of a feel. How we are moving. Our whole deal is doing what it takes for us to move the ball and that’s what we will do. In some situations it’s great. In other situations we have to be able to slow it down and run the clock and use the clock. We need to be good at all of them.”
RILEY – On how much he has grown as a coordinator:
“A lot. I called the game there after Mike [Leach] got fired there at the Alamo Bowl and I thought, well I can call a football game. I am ready to be an offensive coordinator now. Calling a game is certainly a big part of it, but it is not all of it. The organization, the preparation and choosing which ideas you are going to use and which ideas you are not. There is so much more that goes into it. I was able to learn on the fly. I was very lucky; I was able to learn with a guy that gave me a lot of rope. When I made mistakes he didn’t hold me back. He let me make the mistakes and grow. There is no question that I grew a lot in the past five years and I still have some growing to do. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but being able to do that as young as I was, was a blessing.”
RILEY – On how difficult it was to move on from East Carolina:
“It was difficult because I had a really strong relationship with those players and the people there. Ruffin [McNeil] were as probably as close as they come, but when coach [Stoops] offered the job it took probably one second.”
STOOPS – On Coach Ruffin McNeil selling Coach Riley:
“When I asked Ruffin to talk to Lincoln, he was selling him to me. I said, ‘Ruffin I have read all about him.’ That’s the kind of guy that Ruffin is, he felt like that was a better opportunity for him and he took it.”
RILEY – On how important it is to have the wide receivers on the same page:
“It is huge. It will be at all positions. We have to be completely in sync. We first have to do that as a staff, which we will; we already have started on that. That then has to transfer over to the players. When you play as fast as we do there has to be a lot of trust. There has to be a lot of trust with everyone involved with it. That is one nice advantage I have as coaching receivers before moving over to quarterbacks. I think we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do. We are going to get in there with the staff, and it will be a group effort. Really look forward to working with those guys and bounce ideas off each other.
“Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the premier coaches in country. I had a chance to work with him at Texas Tech. That coach is probably as important as there is in college football, that offensive line coach. Cale Gundy has been in this offense. He has obviously been here for 16 years I think now, so he has a strong background. Jay Boulware is a great coach and he can’t wait to get started. Then whoever coach chooses to be the receivers coach we will get them implemented. We know that we have a big challenge to get it in, but I think that the receivers, as well as the rest of the offense is going to be very excited about what we are doing. I think we will be excited to get back to it.”
STOOPS – On if it was important for him to hire the coordinator before hiring a WRs coach:
“Absolutely, getting Lincoln in here first as our coordinator was our primary goal. Trusting him and us communicating on where we go from there on. Definitely wanted to get that piece set.”
RILEY – On if there is a certain style of quarterback he recruits:
“Not really. I just want a player. You can go all done the line and look at all of the different places that have used versions of this offense. We have had tall, short, fast, we had slow. We have got to have a guy that can make decisions. We have got to have the guy that is very accurate with the football. We want a winner. We want a guy that when he is in the huddle, when he is out there playing, the other 10 guys around him are better. If they can do those few things, then we can build around the other characteristics he may have or not have.”
RILEY – On how much he’s used the QB run game:
“We’ve used it a little bit. If you go back and look, I think Shane Carden, our quarterback, over three years produced quite a few rushing touchdowns. We’ve been selective about when we’ve used it, too. I want to keep those guys healthy. Their number one job is going to be just to read. I do think there’s a time and place for it, but we’ll look at our personnel and what we have, and if that fits us then we will.”
RILEY – On whether his offense will look more like Leach or Holgerson:
“Probably closer, currently, to Dana (Holgorsen). If you were to compare it to Dana’s or to Mike’s (Leach), it’s a little close to Dana’s. But if you go back and look at our offense from 2010 to this year at East Carolina, it changed quite a bit there too. Based on personnel and what we could recruit, and what we were playing against, we had to adapt, and again, if I had to tell you what it’s going to look like here, I don’t know yet. I don’t have a clue. We have an idea of what we want to do and the base concepts, but we’re going to use this personnel and our best people are going to touch the ball, and we’re going to do the best we can to put these kids in a position to succeed.”
STOOPS – On the success of East Carolina’s offense under Riley:
“First, all of the success we had in running it, and again I’d like to remind everyone that Quentin Griffin was almost a 2,000-yard rusher in this system. Also, if you look at the top total offenses in the country, six of them are from this body of work, from the top 13 offenses in the country, six of them are from this family. That’s pretty strong. When I looked at East Carolina, they were in the top six or so in third down conversions, top six in total offense, top five in first downs, and that’s moving the ball. Even if you’re not scoring, you’re moving the football and gaining field position. There’s been a consistent success with this type of system in doing that.”
STOOPS – On moving forward offensively:
“It’s ultimately my fault that we haven’t been in it the last several years, and I have a strong feeling and commitment that I want to be back in it the best that we’re able to and adapt it to our personnel and what we can do the best.”
STOOPS – On if Riley was one of the first guys on his mind:
“Definitely. And, first, it was primarily watching East Carolina – watching them play South Carolina and take them to the wire. Watching them in their bowl game put up points and yards and move the ball against Florida. That was primary, and then the phone calls that lead you to some other people and two guys I’ve got great trust in this businesses – Hal Mumme and Mike Leach – not only great offensive success stories but people I know. So anyway, along with Kevin Sumlin, anyone you ask about Lincoln, they were excited about him.”
RILEY – On how many calls he got after it looked like he’d get the job:
“Man, there was a lot. I think one of you guys may have jumped the gun a little bit so my phone blew up a little bit early. There was a lot; there has been so many. Gil Brandt has become a great mentor and friend. And Donnie Duncan, who guy you guys extremely well. So many. Coach (Mike) Leach, a lot of the guys I’ve worked with. There was a ton. Just to be associated with the people that I’ve been lucky enough to be around, I’ve just been the luckiest coach in the world. I’ve been able to learn from those guys at such a young age and they’ve taken a very unselfish interest in me and they’ve certainly helped me get to this point.”
STOOPS – On recommendations he received on Riley:
“I fielded a call from Gil Brandt about five minutes before Lincoln walked in my office. He said, ‘Bob, there’s a guy that you ought to research, check into and check out.’ I said, ‘Gil, he’s going to walk in my office in five minutes.’ He loved that.”
RILEY – On how crazy this last week has been for him:
“It’s been crazy, but it’s been fun. It’s pretty fun walking into these high schools with those two letters on your chest and knowing that you have a chance with any player, anywhere, any time. The staff has been great. Cale Gundy has been instrumental in kind of helping me get around and get my bearings. They’ve got a great recruiting class coming in and we’ve obviously got a pretty good product we think right now to sell and with what we are going to do offensively, there is a lot of people interested in coming to play here. So it’s been a lot of fun, I’m glad we’re able to get in and potentially get another guy or two here at the end. But it certainly has been a whirlwind, there’s not much time to think. But it’s been great.”
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