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If Patricia Is Fired, Lincoln Riley Should Be on Short List to Replace Him

Read more on why Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley should be on the short list of candidates to replace Matt Patricia

Lincoln Riley has been named the next head coach of the Detroit Lions

Well, he hasn't really been. 

Matt Patricia remains Detroit's head man, at least for the time being.

But, how would you like to hear that first sentence uttered one day about the present Oklahoma Sooners head man -- and sooner rather than later? 

From my standpoint, the Lions' front office would be hitting a home run by hiring the 37-year-old Riley -- and from both a PR and on-field perspective.


Not only is he an offensive mastermind, but he's also been the head coach of a program that has won at least 12 games and has made the College Football Playoff each of the last three seasons.

Sure, he's never won the big one, never having captured a national championship. 

But, who are we kidding? 

If that type of success translates to the next level, it would mean Riley would lead the Lions to the NFC Championship Game, guaranteeing the franchise at least one playoff victory.

Remember, the Lions have failed to win a single playoff game since beating the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round of the 1991 postseason.

So, the organization and its fanbase would be more than happy with just getting the chance to make an NFC title game appearance at this point, with a chance to subsequently play in their first ever Super Bowl being on the line.

Now, it's fair to say that he's had a lot of talent along the way -- and on both sides of the ball -- which has led to a large amount of the success he's garnered at Oklahoma.

However, also remember this: He's had a different starting quarterback in each of those three College Football Playoff appearances. 

In chronological order, his starting QBs have been Baker Mayfield (now with the Cleveland Browns), Kyler Murray (now with the Arizona Cardinals) and Jalen Hurts (now with the Philadelphia Eagles). 

And Mayfield and Murray were both Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall draft picks in the NFL Draft.

Sure, each player already had a grandiose amount of talent before arriving to Oklahoma. 

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However, there's no guarantee they would've had as great of college careers without Riley's tutelage, especially Mayfield, who was only a three-star recruit coming out of high school and was initially a walk-on at Texas Tech before transferring to OU. 

Regarding Riley, you can also gripe about the fact that Oklahoma's never been good defensively under his watch. 

For instance, just look at his team's performances on defense this year. 

The Sooners have allowed 38 and 37 points, respectively, in back-to-back weeks, with both games resulting in losses (to Kansas State on Sept. 26 and Iowa State Oct. 3).

So, what does he know about defense, right? 

Well, it couldn't be that much less than the so-called defensive genius in Patricia.

To prevent the defense from performing as poorly as it has with Patricia, Riley would have to hire an experienced defensive play-caller.

And I believe that he would, as a first-time NFL head coach, in order to avoid the same pitfalls that the present regime has endured on that side of the ball. 

Then, there's this: The NFL has become a quarterback-friendly league, with the head coach-QB dynamic being so hugely important. 

If there's a true cleaning of house by the Ford family -- which I believe there will be and which would bring about an end to general manager Bob Quinn's tenure in Detroit also -- the Lions will likely be in the market for a new franchise passer in next year's draft. 

Drafting a QB would make hiring Riley a perfect move. He could groom the likely first-or-second-rounder to become the heir apparent to Matthew Stafford.

Could you imagine Riley and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or North Dakota State's Trey Lance teaming up in Honolulu Blue a season from now?

The sky would be the limit for how good the offense could be two-three seasons from now -- and maybe even in 2021. 

With all this being said, let me be clear, I'm not saying that Riley is going to be the next Lions head coach or that he's even the best man for the job.

Knowing the Ford family's ways, if he's considered to be the right man for the job by enough credible football people, he's likely not going to be their choice.

However, at the very least, he should be on their short list of candidates when the inevitable is reached and Patricia is fired.