Bob Stoops: Lincoln Riley 'Didn't Invent' Oklahoma Football, Backs Program's Future

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 26, 2022

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 29: Oklahoma Sooners interim head coach Bob Stoops gets interviewed after defeating the Oregon Ducks at the Alamodome on December 29, 2021 in San Antonio, TX. (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lincoln Riley was Bob Stoops' handpicked successor at Oklahoma, but the Sooners coaching legend isn't too concerned about his protege's departure.

"Lincoln Riley didn't invent OU football," Stoops said Tuesday when being honored by the Oklahoma Legislature.

Riley served as Stoops' offensive coordinator for two seasons before being hired as head coach in 2017. He went 55-10 over his five seasons helming the Sooners, reaching the College Football Playoff three times. When Riley left for USC in November, he departed with the highest winning percentage for a coach in Oklahoma history.

Stoops took over for Oklahoma's Alamo Bowl victory over Oregon, saying he wanted to send a message that the program would remain a national power. 

"My first mission was to remind everybody—players, community, everybody at the university—Lincoln Riley didn't invent OU football, OK?" Stoops said. "Everyone needed a wake-up call because they kind of slipped into thinking he did."

Oklahoma targeted Brent Venables as Riley's replacement, bringing the respected defensive mind back into the fold after he spent the last decade working under Dabo Swinney at Clemson. Venables previously served as an assistant under Stoops from 1999 to 2011.

"Brent was a major part of [Oklahoma's undefeated 2000 season]," Stoops said of Venables. "He was with us 13 years and then went 10 years to Clemson where they've had as big a resurgence—not resurgence they've come from nowhere—to be one of the premier teams in the country.

"He's got all the experience in the world. I don't need to tell you about his passion and energy. It oozes all over the place and infects everybody."

Despite being one of the best assistant coaches in college football for two decades, Venables is in his first stint as a head coach with Oklahoma. The Sooners got off to a rocky start to his tenure, losing several transfers and commitments who either followed Riley to USC or looked for greener pastures elsewhere.

However, Oklahoma recovered from the initial setback well and has the No. 8 recruiting class in the country, per 247Sports