It appears that NFL teams interested in hiring away Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley this upcoming offseason will have to wait at least another year before having a legitimate shot at hiring him.
On Sunday morning, Riley told reporters that he intends to remain in Norman, Okla., and aspires to claim a national championship there; not bolt for an NFL head-coaching gig. The statement came less than 24 hours after the Sooners' 45–34 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
"It's been a question and I get it," Riley said, addressing whether or not he would stay at Oklahoma. "If I were (players) and their families, I would ask it, too. But I don't think it's changed.
"If anything, last night just makes me hungrier. We've gotten a lot done here. You don't sit there and say we didn't get [it] done. We got a lot done but we know there's a little more left to get done. I feel like we're about to do it. It just makes me even hungrier to keep going what we've got going here."
Riley, who took over for long-time Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops in 2017, led the Sooners to a 12–2 record this season. The 35-year-old guided the school to back-to-back College Football Playoff semifinal appearances.
As Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported in June, NFL folks frequented Norman throughout the offseason due to curiosity with Riley, whose offenses have ranked among the most high-powered units in his career. With several potential head-coaching vacancies about to open, it wouldn't be surprising to hear Riley's name discussed as a possible candidate, however on Sunday, he expressed disinterest in the NFL.
"I think just honestly and, like I've said, I don't see that as a step up, not in this profession," Riley said. "It's not a burning desire of mine by any stretch right now. Not even close. It doesn't even compare to my burning desire to win a national championship here."