People have already speculated about a potential Lincoln Riley jump to the NFL, and with the Cleveland Browns firing Hue Jackson on Monday, it again became low-hanging fruit.
Former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, once a student of Riley’s, now starts for the Browns after they made him the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick last April.
Riley was asked about his interest in the NFL at his weekly press conference a few hours after the Browns news became official.
“No, [no interest] right now,” Riley said. “You sit here and answer these questions, and I always want to be truthful. The truth is for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love coaching college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. Don’t know that I ever will.
“I’m never going to be a guy to stand up here and say ‘no way, no how’ will these things ever happen. I don’t know that. But I know right now I could(n’t) care less about the NFL. We’re trying to win this game and trying to make a run that we all think we have in us right now.”
That didn’t stop Oddshark from giving Riley second-best odds of becoming the next Browns head coach, behind Sean McVay.
The Browns parted ways with Jackson after three years amid a 2-5-1 start. Mayfield led the organization to its first victory since 2016 back in September.
Riley and Mayfield are close, but OU’s head coach didn’t sound like he would be willing to leave Norman soon. He said he enjoys the pageantry of college football and embraces the teaching part.
“Oklahoma has been great to me. They didn’t have to give me a shot three years ago and certainly didn’t have to give me a shot the year and a half ago. That’s something I’ll never forget,” Riley said.
“And I think we’ve got everything we need here to be successful for a long, long time. Really like living here. I just like everything about this place. They’ve been good to me and we’re doing some great things right now and I think the future’s going to continue to get better and better. It’s all positive in my mind.”