Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has reportedly signed a deal to take over as the head coach at USC starting next season, according to multiple sources.
Riley's Sooners lost to Oklahoma State by a score of 33-37 on Saturday evening, finishing the regular season 10-2. With his sudden move already reported as being finalized, the speculations of who will replace him at Oklahoma have already begun. One name stands out: Kliff Kingsbury, a former quarterback under Mike Leach.
Kingsbury and Leach started their relationship at Texas Tech when Leach joined the coaching staff in 2000. Kingsbury was a talented quarterback who began to thrive under the Air Raid offense. He became a starter during his redshirt sophomore season and had one of the most successful careers in Texas Tech history. In 43 games, Kingsbury completed 1,229 of 1,881 passes for 12,423 yards with 95 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. He finished his career with 39 school records, 13 Big 12 conference records and seven NCAA FBS records.
Although Kingsbury's NFL career did not amount to much, the things he was taught under Leach helped him shoot up in the ranks as football coach. His first job came in 2008 when he joined the University of Houston football staff in the quality control position. He was promoted to offensive coordinator due to his success before departing in 2011 to join the Texas A&M staff to work in the same position. Kingsbury had his first stint as a head coach when he began working for Texas Tech before the 2013 season. There, he ran his Air Raid offense with the help of future NFL star Patrick Mahomes.
Kingsbury became the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in early 2019 and went straight to work. Just like his college teams, the Cardinals were going to run the Air Raid offense in the NFL. His team struggled in the 2019 season and finished with a 5-10-1 record before going 8-8 in 2020. Finally, Kingsbury's Cardinals turned the page in 2021. So far this season, they sit atop the NFL at 9-2, and the Air Raid offense has shredded talented defense like no other offense can.
If Kingsbury becomes the new head coach of Oklahoma, then there is the possibility of having another Air Raid offense in the SEC. The Sooners have not made the official transition to the SEC yet, but they could do so as early as next season. If everything lines up, then it will be exciting to see Leach-- the mentor and coach-- face off against his former quarterback.