While Oklahoma is No. 1 in the nation in ESPN’s post-spring college football rankings, the Sooners are only No. 3 in rankings announced Thursday by CBS Sports — and OU coach Lincoln Riley is OK with either one.
“I think, honestly, it is what it is at this point,” Riley said Thursday in a video press conference. “There’s a long ways to go in these things.”
In this case, there’s an entire offseason to go. Then the season starts. Then, about halfway through the fall, rankings start to matter. Then, on the first weekend in December, the College Football Playoff rankings actually mean something.
Still, Riley said he gets it. There’s no reason to slam offseason rankings as worthless, just like there’s no reason to buy into them completely.
“We’re used to high expectations here,” he said. “My biggest deal for the guys is, we never shy away from high expectations and wanting to do well. It’s just making sure we’re putting in the work behind it. That’s our biggest deal here.
“We’ve never shied away from those things. But we also understanding preseason rankings are completely meaningless. And it’s about the work that you do.”
If nothing else, high preseason rankings are confirmation of a strong finish to the previous season (OU won its last eight games, a sixth straight Big 12 title and beat Florida 55-20 in the Cotton Bowl), a lot of returning starters (the Sooners bring back 21 players with extensive starting experience) and a program headed in the right direction.
“Appreciate that some people out there have respect for our team and the guys coming back,” Riley said. “We’ve got pretty high expectations within these walls and we’ve got a lot of work to do to have a chance to meet ‘em.”