Lincoln Riley is maniacal, a deeply disturbed egomaniac that only cares about winning. Today was the start of the Big 12 Media Days and Lincoln Riley spouted off about a variety of topics, but most notable to West Virginia fans was what he said about transfer quarterback Austin Kendall, who transferred from Norman to Morgantown during the offseason.
Riley initially blocked Kendall from transferring to West Virginia but backed down after an onslaught of negativity was aimed at him for his hypocritical ways. Oklahoma’s last three quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts all transferred from other programs before deciding on the Sooners. Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech, Murray from Texas A&M and this year’s assumed starter Jalen Hurts from Alabama.
According to Riley, “I was always going to let him go to West Virginia. That was no issue. That’s part of these new rules is we can’t restrict them from going anywhere. My contention was I had a concern about a player being able to transfer and be eligible the very next year in our league. I don’t think that’s healthy for our league.”
Austin Kendall would not be in Morgantown right now if Lincoln Riley had his way. He saw the terrible press that him blocking Kendall’s transfer had for Oklahoma and buckled. Plain and simple. Social media erupted, calling out Riley for being a hypocrite and his initial decision made him and the Oklahoma Sooners football program look really bad. Riley had no choice but to allow the transfer. This had nothing to do with what was best for Austin Kendall.
Riley claimed to change his stance due to his personal relationship with Kendall, saying he just wanted what’s best for the player. The question begging to be asked is, how in the world is sitting out a year as a Grad transfer what’s best for the player? How does that benefit Kendall one bit? Riley’s immediate reaction to the transfer was his most pure feelings, his most true opinion on it. He didn’t give a damn about Austin Kendall!
Riley stated that “my personal relationship with Austin and his family, the fact that he took at chance and came out to Oklahoma when I first got here, the fact that I was kind of with him every step of the way, I think the personal side of it overtook maybe more the business side of it from my head and my views on it haven’t changed. I still don’t really agree with it but I realize in that moment I wanted to do the best thing for the kid and I couldn’t get past the personal side of it.”
This, of course, is complete nonsense. Riley believes that players should have to sit out a year if they transfer within the same conference. For a leader of a football program and a competitor to feel this way makes sense, but it is certainly not what’s best for the player. If you’re only looking at what’s best for a player, particularly a grad transfer, being able to move freely among schools without sitting out is what’s best.
Baker Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech in 2013 and sat out the 2014 season before being eligible at Oklahoma, but remember that Mayfield was not a graduate transfer and simply wanted a better opportunity to play. He was behind future NFL pick Davis Webb in 2013 and would’ve been behind Patrick Mahomes in 2014 on the team’s depth chart. If Mayfield were a graduate transfer, Riley would have almost certainly wanted Mayfield to gain immediate eligible.
That is an educated guess, of course, but the bottom line is that he didn’t want what was best for Austin Kendall, a loyal player that gave his best and waited patiently behind Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Kendall was likely promised the position for the upcoming year, or at the very least given a real shot at winning the job. Instead of going with Kendall, however, Riley rewarded Kendall’s patience and loyalty by going out and actively recruiting Jalen Hurts, the former Alabama quarterback, who was 26-2 as a starter for the Crimson Tide.
Lincoln Riley’s message to Austin Kendall: “Thank you for sitting behind Mayfield and Murray, thank you for being patient and loyal. I’m going to thank you for being a loyal solider by making you wait yet another year behind another quarterback that I’m going to bring in this year. If you try to transfer to the place you want to go (WVU), I want you to be forced to sit out yet another year as a punishment.”
To be clear, Lincoln Riley doesn’t care about Austin Kendall. The only person Lincoln Riley cares about is Lincoln Riley.