Could Lincoln Riley leave Oklahoma for LSU?
Just two weeks ago rumors surfaced that Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was the leading candidate to become the next head coach at LSU. However, those rumors appeared to be squelched by both Riley and the LSU administration. It seemed the LSU coaching search was headed in a different direction, with Riley not even mentioned as a viable candidate. What are the chances that Lincoln Riley could leave Oklahoma for LSU?
Clearly, this brought about a collective sigh of relief from the Sooner faithful. Although this may be true, the Sooner nation has great cause for concern on the day after Thanksgiving.
Nothing is remotely official. However, there have been multiple unconfirmed reports this afternoon that Riley could be headed to Baton Rouge. Where there is smoke, is there necessarily fire? It appears that the possibility exists. With this in mind, there are many pros and cons to a move from Oklahoma to LSU.
Positives of going to LSU
Location is definitely a benefit, located in a hotbed of high school talent as well as proximity to talent-rich Texas. LSU’s team isn’t always in the top five but the potential is there, especially for a dynamic recruiter like Riley. The past three Tigers coaches Ed Orgeron, Les Miles, and Nick Saban all won national titles in Baton Rouge.
Tiger Stadium offers one of the best home-field advantages in all of college football, and LSU has strong support for facilities and staff. Athletic director Scott Woodward is a football-focused administrator. Unlike the other top SEC programs, LSU is the only Power five program in its state and the preferred destination for almost all of the top in-state recruits.
Negatives of a move to LSU
Baton Rouge is a unique destination. Drama seems to follow the LSU program even when things are going well. Coaches who have headed the LSU football program are acutely aware of the politics at LSU, due to it being the pinnacle of the state and region. LSU can be especially taxing on coaches, as both Miles and Orgeron were fired. Orgeron, less than two years after a 15-0 season.
The university’s recent Title IX scandal could turn off some candidates about the administration.
Positives for staying at Oklahoma
The positives for Riley to stay in Norman are many. First and foremost, Riley is beginning to amass blue-blood-level talent. Primarily considered an offensive genius, Riley has recognized the need on the defensive side and has recruited to that need.
Secondly, Riley has pretty much carte blanche to do whatever he wants at Oklahoma. That is a luxury that just doesn’t exist at LSU.
For the most part, Riley has more popularity and power than the Governor here in Oklahoma.
Negatives to Stay in Norman
This is a relatively shortlist. Predominantly, the University of Oklahoma either can not or will not pay what it has been reported LSU is offering financially.
The only other negative would be a rabid fan base. While the Sooner fan base is very loyal, as long as you win at a high level, they can easily turn on the head coach. Take this season for example, while the Sooners are 10-1 this season the fans have been critical of Riley and the coaching staff.
The Final Word
Despite the fact that most fans have recently felt that Riley isn’t going anywhere, recent reports support that he may be leaving.
Many unconfirmed reports have surfaced this afternoon to support the fact that he is leaving. Several reports have come from LSU players and high-level recruits that LSU is planning to introduce Riley as the next head coach as early as next week.
What many may feel would be the final nail is the financial package. LSU could offer Riley a contract that would pay him an average of $12-$13 million a year. This would make him the highest-paid coach in football by a large margin. Saban, arguably the greatest college coach of all time only earns 9.7 million a year. Those are figures that are difficult to ignore.
At the end of the day, the Sooner faithful must hope Riley values comfort over money.