Lincoln Riley: Chandler Morris-type conference transfer 'unhealthy for college football'

TCU coach Gary Patterson said Oklahoma has not given Morris a scholarship release yet, which Riley and OU leadership think would be a negative for the integrity of the game
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Earlier in the week, TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson announced that quarterback Chandler Morris had not yet been released by Oklahoma to become immediately eligible.

Wednesday during a video press conference, Lincoln Riley responded.

When asked by The Athletic’s Jason Kersey about why the Sooners hadn’t yet released Morris to transfer, Riley said it was a matter of principle held firmly by the OU program.

“Myself, the leadership here at OU, we think it’s unhealthy for college football to encourage intra-conference transfers,” he said. “I don’t believe that you ought to be able to transfer in-conference and be immediately eligible to play. I think that we’ve got to discourage that.”

Riley specifically said the decision has nothing to do with the individual player involved, but rather the situation as a whole that Oklahoma is opposed to.

Chandler Morris

Chandler Morris

“Chandler Morris did a tremendous job here. He’s a terrific young man, he’s got a great family,” Riley said. “Sure I hated to see him go, you never want players to leave your program. But, I know he’s going to a good program there with Coach Patterson, I really do. I wish the kid all the best.

“A person, the name on it is meaningless to us. It's about something we stand for.”

Riley further clarified that the program isn’t opposed to transfers in general, just the specific case of a player electing to move around in-conference and having the ability to immediately gain eligibility.

“I know there's been a lot of positive rule changes, again, with guys being able to transfer wherever they want being one of them that have helped the game and have helped the athletes. And I'm a thousand percent for that,” Riley said. “But when there is something that we believe is going to make the game worse, I don't just want to do the politically correct thing every single time and just sit back and just say 'OK.'

“To illustrate the point, I had another freshman in the same class that left and went to a Pac-12 school and we released him right away.”

Riley was likely referring to tight end Jalin Conyers, who transferred to Arizona State earlier this offseason.

This isn’t the first time Oklahoma has made waves with its intentions to not release a quarterback to be immediately eligible.

When Austin Kendall transferred to West Virginia, Riley and the Sooners initially declined to release him, before acquiescing and allowing Kendall to start his career at the Mountaineers right away. 

OU has been on the other end of this rule as well.

When Baker Mayfield transferred to OU and walked on for the Sooners from Texas Tech, he had to sit out the 2014 season, missing out on immediate eligibility because his transfer happened within the confines of the Big 12 Conference. The Big 12 changed that rule, however, to accommodate walk-ons.

“This is something that we believe in. I get that some posing are going to disagree with that, some people are going to agree with that. I get it,” Riley said. “But this is just a core believe that we have.

“So our plan is just to let this play out and let some of these rules solidify, and we’ll be open to watching it and seeing how it unfolds.”