Lincoln Riley Departs for USC, Bringing Several OU Assistants With Him

Beverly Cantrell - November 29, 2021 9:44 pm

The Oklahoman-

The sun hadn’t risen when OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch pulled up to the private terminal at Will Rogers World Airport around 5:30 a.m. Monday.

His white SUV still had a front license plate with the interlocking OU logo.

Grinch, wearing a white pullover and carrying a bag adorned with the Big Ten logo, declined comment as he walked in.

About 15 minutes later, a pair of SUVs with dark tint pulled into the terminal. Instead of unloading and walking through the terminal, the driver of the lead vehicle — now former Sooners coach Lincoln Riley — pulled up to a gate on the side of the terminal and waited several minutes before the gate opened and the vehicles drove onto the tarmac.

Just after 6 a.m., another SUV pulled up, carrying outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, strength coach Bennie Wylie and director of operations Clarke Stroud.

About 15 minutes later, a pair of SUVs with dark tint pulled into the terminal. Instead of unloading and walking through the terminal, the driver of the lead vehicle — now former Sooners coach Lincoln Riley — pulled up to a gate on the side of the terminal and waited several minutes before the gate opened and the vehicles drove onto the tarmac.

Just after 6 a.m., another SUV pulled up, carrying outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, strength coach Bennie Wylie and director of operations Clarke Stroud.

Of the coaches and staff who arrived only Simmons was wearing Sooners’ gear.

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By the time the sun rose over Oklahoma City, the group was gone, heading to Los Angeles where Riley was introduced as USC’s head coach Monday afternoon with a large group of assistants joining him.

“It was tough to leave the place I was,” Riley told reporters Monday afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum. “At the same time, I knew this was the right thing.”

In the days before Saturday’s Bedlam loss in Stillwater, rumors that LSU was targeting Riley became so pervasive that OU athletic director Joe Castiglione took notice.

“The rumors are what the rumors are,” Castiglione said Monday afternoon. “Then on Sunday morning, the latter part of Sunday morning, got a call from him that said he was considering and would speak to USC. Then he would get back to us. We agreed to meet a couple hours later, and President (Joe) Harroz and Lincoln and I met and that’s when he told us that he had a visit and he was making the decision to take a unique opportunity.”

It wasn’t long before Riley informed Castiglione and Harroz that he was leaving.

Longtime OU coach Bob Stoops will lead the Sooners in their upcoming bowl game, but who will coach with him?

OU’s online coaching roster was updated Monday afternoon with Grinch and Simmons removed, Bob Stoops listed as head coach and all of the other assistants remaining.

That — as of now — leaves the Sooners with co-offensive coordinator/inside receivers coach Cale Gundy, defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux, cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, inside linebackers coach Brian Odom, outside linebackers/defensive ends coach Jamar Cain, running backs coach DeMarco Murray and tight ends/H-backs coach Joe Jon Finley on the staff. Of that group, only Manning and Cain are not OU alums.

 

 

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