Lincoln Riley didn’t get much sleep in his first night as the head coach at Oklahoma.
“I’m running on a little bit of adrenaline,” Riley said, “but that’s all part of it.”
Named as Bob Stoops’ successor in a stunning move on Wednesday, Riley visited with ESPN.com Thursday morning, less than 16 hours after the press conference to announce Stoops’ retirement and Riley’s promotion from offensive coordinator.
Here are five questions with the 33-year-old coach:
What do you need to do first?
Riley: “The most important thing here is our players. I’ve tried to clear out as much [time] as I can. Our coaches are down in Dallas and Houston today at a satellite camp. I made the decision to not go, because I want to be around our guys as much as possible and make sure that they have clear direction of where we’re going — and that they’re good. I’ve been around them a lot in the last 12 to 16 hours. That’s been really positive, and I’ll be sprinkling in staff meetings, recruiting, all kinds of organizational aspects that you can imagine are taking place right now.”
What’s your immediate message to recruits?
Riley: “There are a couple different ones. One, with the way this happened, it’s so unique, something like this only happens at a place like Oklahoma. Offensively and defensively, schemes and people that recruits have built relationships with over the past couple years are not changing. The championship pedigree that is here — the proven, sustained success over a number of years — is a result of a lot of people. That’s going to continue. That’s not going anywhere. We’ve just moved into one of the most beautiful facilities that you will ever see, and we have just an incredible setup for these guys. And lastly, I have told them and will continue to express the desire that I have to be a great head coach for them, to be there to develop them personally, to be responsible for them. That’s a job I take very seriously. I can’t wait to get started with our current guys and the recruits that we have coming in.”
From whom did you hear yesterday that most stopped you in your tracks?
Riley: “There were a lot of people. Coach [Barry] Switzer. It’s always great to hear from him. My dad. Because of how quickly everything came together, I wasn’t able to have my parents there yesterday, but I got to finally catch up with them last night. And then a lot of family and friends. I’ve had a lot of people support me, helped me get to a point like this. I haven’t been able to catch up to all of them. I’ve got a crazy number of messages that I’ve got to return here at some point. But I have a lot of special people in my life that have blessed me very much.”
Could you have reached this position as quickly without Baker Mayfield?
Riley: “No. That’s an easy answer. Everything we’ve ever done here has been a team effort. I would say Baker’s certainly been a big part of it and very important to me personally, but I would say all our players. This doesn’t happen without us winning and continuing to win championships. And so our players that bought in from the day we walked in the door, our defensive players who have played so well and been so great to me, our coaches, people in this building — this doesn’t happen without any of them. That’s the message, and that’s what we’ve got to have to continue.”
What are you going to do with all that space in your office?
Riley: “Well, I don’t have as many trophies as Bob, so we’ll figure something out. Maybe we can win a couple and get a couple nice additions. We’ll get to work on that.”