Oklahoma Football: Is Lincoln Riley a Candidate for Bama O-Coordinator Job?

Alabama’s offensive coordinator of all of six weeks, Steve Sarkisian, is moving on to the NFL. That leaves the job open at Alabama, and you’ve got to wonder if the repercussions of that news will reach all the way to Oklahoma football.

Nov 28, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley watches a replay during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma won 58-23. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 28, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley watches a replay during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma won 58-23. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Why should that be a concern? Because Sooner offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is one of the best in the business and Alabama head coach Nick Saban is only interested in surrounding himself with the best coaches and players he can find. That’s why the Crimson Tide have been the best program in college football since Saban has been there.

Head coach Bob Stoops brought Riley on board for the 2015 season. In his two seasons in charge of the Sooner offense, Oklahoma has gone 22-4 overall and 17-1 in the Big 12, including 16 consecutive conference wins.

Sarkisian replaced Lane Kiffin as Alabama’s offensive coordinator just a week before the Crimson Tide’s appearance in the 2016 national championship game. Kiffin had been in that role for three seasons, but at the end of this past season was named the head coach at Florida Atlantic University.

Earlier today, Sarkisian was named offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl runner-up Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian takes over for Kyle Shanahan, who on Monday was named the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

To illustrate what a revolving circle the football coaching business is, Chip Kelly the displaced former head coach of the 49ers is one of the early names being tossed out there as a potential replacement for Sarkisian at Alabama.

Mike Locksley, who was promoted to co-offensive coordinator at Alabama close to the time Kiffin left the Crimson Tide in January, is another person who will get solid consideration for the job.

More names are sure to surface in the days and weeks to follow, but one name not likely to be on the list is Riley’s.

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops and quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley celebrate during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops and quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley celebrate during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive coordinator job at Alabama unquestionably is a prime-time assignment. But it is not appreciably more prestigious or more of a stepping stone to a head coaching job than the same role at Oklahoma. Four previous offensive coordinators under Bob Stoops have gone on to become college football head coaches, the most notable of which is Mike Leach, formerly the head coach at Texas Tech and now at Washington State.

Chuck Long, Mark Mangino and Kevin Wilson (formerly head coach at Indiana and now offensive coordinator at Ohio State) also became head coaches after serving in the offensive coordinator role at OU.

Riley’s next coaching assignment will be as a head coach – you can take that to the bank – and he will be at Oklahoma until that happens, which should occur in the next year or two.

So best of luck to Nick Saban and Alabama in their coaching search for a new offensive coordinator.

Lincoln Riley seems pretty well set and safe where he is…for the moment.

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