Much has been said since Lincoln Riley left the Oklahoma Sooners to take over as head coach at USC. Several former and current Sooners have expressed their feelings during the move, with many of them doubting that Riley, according to him, made the decision within 12 hours.
Now in South Carolina, Austin Stogner and Spencer Rattler have made it clear that they are not lovingly looking back on the 2021 season with Rattler calling it “toxic” and Stogner questioning the truth of Riley’s words.
Future NFL draft pick and former Sooners defensive linebacker Isaiah Thomas recently gave his perspective on Riley’s departure on Fox Sports Analyst RJ Young’s “The Number One Ranking Show.”
You can find the entire interview above, but here’s what Thomas said about Lincoln Riley’s exit:
I asked Isaiah Thomas how he learned that Lincoln Riley was leaving OU to become head coach at USC. He was kind enough to tell us here. It’s insight, cooled by months of reflection, from a player, a Tulsan, that I trust and admire. I know now, more than ever, by his players, Riley was loved. pic.twitter.com/wXFfdTuX3F
– RJ Young (@RJ_Young) 18 April 2022
Thomas says the football team was called in for a 14:00 meeting, which was strange because they usually did not have team meetings after a game. While in the parking lot before entering the meeting, Thomas received a phone call from a “trusted source.” That source told Thomas that his coach would be leaving for USC.
Like every Sooners fan on the planet, he did not believe it when he first heard it. Then Riley came in to talk to the team.
Thomas says in the interview that he is not angry with Lincoln Riley that he is gone. He understands the reality that college football is a business and that the opening at USC was a great opportunity.
The thing Thomas has a problem with is how Riley left the Sooners. Thomas felt that the way Riley was gone was just not “he”.
“It’s just how he’s gone, not because he’s gone. Riley was always on the table for me. “I always had my back,” Thomas told Young. “I specifically remember many team meetings where he specifically pointed me out … He always used me in a positive way as an example. So it was just amazing how he got away with knowing the type of guy he was. ”
It sounds like Thomas did not buy the “phone call after the game and slept on it” story that Riley gave the team in a five-minute speech. Yes, five minutes. Lincoln Riley gave his players no more than a five-minute talk and then left the room.
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