Oklahoma AD: Sooners coaches who weren't excited about SEC move 'aren't here anymore'

Was Lincoln Riley unenthused about Oklahoma’s move to the SEC?

OU and Texas officially became members of the SEC on Monday, a move that had been years in the making. News first broke in the summer of 2021 that both teams were looking to leave the Big 12 for the richer pastures of the SEC — a report that came after administrators at both schools had been exploring the possibility for months.

Riley was the coach at Oklahoma at the time. And according to Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, he might not have been too keen on a change in leagues. In an appearance on the SEC Network on Monday afternoon, Castiglione made a reference to former coaches at Oklahoma who weren’t thrilled about the school’s conference switch.

“I will tell you without reservation, every coach that we talked to was excited,” Castiglione said. “And you know what, the ones that weren’t aren’t here anymore.”

The longtime OU AD left it at that, but it wasn’t hard for anyone watching and everyone else on set to wonder if Castiglione was making an implication about Riley.

Riley looked like an Oklahoma lifer after he took over for Bob Stoops following Stoops’ retirement at the end of the 2016 season. Oklahoma lost just two games in each of Riley’s first five seasons with the school and was 10-2 in 2021 when USC parted ways with Clay Helton.

That move led to Riley becoming the Trojans’ coach following a late-season loss to Oklahoma State. Stoops came back to coach Oklahoma’s bowl game before former Oklahoma assistant and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was hired to be the team’s new coach.

As Venables leads Oklahoma’s football team into the SEC in 2024, Riley is also in charge of a team that’s switching conferences this summer. The Trojans are one of four Pac-12 teams heading to the Big Ten this season as the Big Ten expands to 18 teams. And like Oklahoma and Texas’ move, USC’s move to the Big Ten was years in the making too. Both USC and UCLA announced their intentions to leave for the Big Ten in the summer of 2022 after Riley’s first season in Los Angeles.