Lincoln Riley cut the reporter off mid-sentence. He made it clear that LSU might be a perfect job for someone, but it's not the job for him.
Did anyone else hear him say that he's committed to Oklahoma following a 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State?
Riley was telling the truth when he said he wouldn't be leaving for the SEC early before Oklahoma arrives by 2025. He instead will head out west to USC, hoping to finally revitalize the program back to the days of John McKay and Pete Carroll.
Oklahoma needs a head coach for the first time since 1999. Riley was handed the keys to the Big 12 kingdom by Bob Stoops and owned the conference for five seasons. With a move to the SEC, the Sooners need someone who can win.
Kentucky's Mark Stoops' name has been in the conversation. So has former OU QB and current Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel. Anyone else?
Oh, Lane Kiffin.
You didn't think he wasn't going to pop up in the conversation, did you?
Oklahoma currently remains a top 10 job in college football. Only six men have held the title since 1973, and two of them lasted for three seasons combined.
Kiffin's resurgence back to the pinnacle level of college football coaching makes him an enticing name at nearly every program. Ole Miss is a fine institution and has the funds to make the second-year coach quite comfortable settling down in Oxford as his permanent residence.
They had the funds to do that with Tommy Tuberville as well. He bolted for Auburn after two winning seasons. Guess the boosters didn't have enough pine to build a suitable box in 1998.
Kiffin's 10-2 season with a program that has never surpassed double-digit wins in the regular season makes him a front-runner for most openings. Matt Corral is NFL bound. So are likely a handful of offensive starters, meaning recruiting is going to be a necessity to keep the train led by Lane on the winning tracks.
It doesn't help Rebels' fans that he coach trolls everyone. He calls the media "rat poison" every chance he gets. He pokes fun of comments made by his play-calling or hypes up a recruit by making them his only follow on Instagram.
His new hobby? License plates. First came a snapshot of one from Louisiana. Then Texas. Visiting the Superdome in New Orleans? Is the NFL calling his name?
Keith Carter, are you paying attention?
Rumors and message boards are basically the same things; take it with a grain of salt and move on. Once a school makes an announcement, the ink has dried and the pitchforks can be raised.
Kiffin's $4.5 million salary can be matched by Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. If Riley was making $7.6 million, they can afford to offer a similar deal to the coach who continues to win since his clinic down in Tuscaloosa for three seasons.
Would Kiffin leave Ole Miss for OU? Norman is flat, dry, and filled with expectations of winning once more in the Big 12 and later the SEC. Oxford is rich in the green both when it comes to the banks of flowers and trees across the town and that in the bank.
Should Riley be in Coral Gables, you could probably see Kiffin from his house packing to head back to his house in Boca Raton. Now comes the tough question on which job might offer more stability.
At any moment, Carter could hand his hand-picked coach a blank check and tell him to cash it. He could wait and see Castiglione even gives him a call about the opening.
People talk about "loyalty" in the terms of college football as if its a code. The only code coaches care about is winning.
Oklahoma finished a "down" 10-2 in 2021, missing the Big 12 Championship for the first time in five years. They have roster holes they must fill before joining a conference where the slogan is how it just means more.
Kiffin comes with concerns. Oklahoma has one it could enter a dark time in the program's history; can you win and win fast?
Yes, Kiffin can. He's done it twice. A three-peat in the heartland country?
Well, he was born in Nebraska.
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