Nearly two years after Lincoln Riley departed Oklahoma for USC in one of the most stunning head coach moves in college football history, he revealed in-depth for the first time what the experience was like for him and his family amid strong backlash from Sooner fans.
Riley confirmed to journalist Graham Besinger in an interview for Besinger’s show that he had to hire armed security for his family after multiple attempted break-ins into their home, suspicious packages being left for them and someone obtaining the cell phone number for his nine-year-old daughter.
“95 percent of the fans and people out there at Oklahoma or anywhere else are great,” Riley said. “You just typically have that percentage that at times take it too far. Obviously, this is one of those instances.”
Riley said that at that point in time, he only cared about the safety of his wife and their two young daughters.
“I didn’t care about the house, I didn’t care about anything else,” Riley said. “Just their safety.”
“We wanted the girls to finish out school [in Oklahoma] because the semester was almost over, and as that stuff transpired we said, ‘No, we’ve got to get them the hell out of here as fast as we can.'”
Riley admits that he could have handled his departure better and says he regrets the times when he “shot back” at some of the criticism that came his way.
He also said he laments some of the relationships he lost in Oklahoma when he made his move.
“I think on the emotional side of it past my family, the toughest thing for me was the relationships that you had built that you thought maybe at some point went past you just being the football coach there and you realized did not go past that. But that’s part of what we do. Nobody’s shedding a tear for us. We get to experience some things a lot of other people don’t, and that’s a little bit part of the price we pay.”
Riley led the Trojans to an 11-3 record and the doorstep of the College Football Playoff in his first year at USC, bolstered by a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign from quarterback Caleb Williams, who followed Riley from Oklahoma to Los Angeles via the transfer portal. The Trojans have begun the 2023 season with three blowout victories against overmatched opponents and are off this coming weekend before heading on the road to face Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and Deion Sanders’ Colorado.
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