By Michael Kinney
In a very quick time span, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley become one of the highest paid coaches in college football. During Wednesday’s OU Board of Regents Meeting, it was announced Riley would get a raise that will pay him $6 million annually starting in the 2019-20 campaign.
Riley’s salary of $4.8 million last year was already near the top in the Big 12. Now is sits at No. 1 in the conference. He will also earn an annual $700,000 stay bonus for each year he remains at Oklahoma, in addition to $150,000 in annual bumps, through the 2023 season.
“Let’s face it. He’s going into his third year,” OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione said. “We’ve come to him previously trying to take the steps to make sure he knew that he was appreciated, and we wanted to jointly find the place where we could go and make him feel appreciated, valued and competitive with his peers and do it within our means.”
The raise bumps Riley up to the ninth highest paid coach in the country after only two seasons of being a head coach under his belt. Alabama coach Nick Saban tops the chart at $8.3 million a year. Two-time national champion coach Dabo Swinney sits just ahead of Riley with his $6.5 million salary.
Only two other coaches from the Big 12 are in the top 10. Tom Hermann of Texas ($5.5) and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy ($5.0).
In the same Regents meeting, new OU defensive coordinaotor Alex Grinch saw his salary of $1.4 million also approved.
Since replacing Bob Stoops right before the 2017 season, Riley has led the Sooners to a 24-4 record, back to back College Football Playoff appearances, two Big 12 Championships and two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks.
As the team’s offensive coordinator as well, Riley has had the highest scoring offense. It made him one of the most sought after coaches in the NFL.
“As I said back when people were asking me about the rumors, we were focused on doing what makes Oklahoma the best,” Castiglione said. “We really didn’t look at it like we were in competition with anybody else. We were putting our best foot forward. We were being proactive. We weren’t reactive to the rumors. This is what we want. This is how we’re positioning ourselves.”
While Riley, 35, has been flirted with by the NFL, he has shown he is not ready to leave the support system OU just yet.
“I’m very thankful for it,” Riley said. “Joe, President (James) Gallogly, there’s just been a ton of support. And that’s one of the big reasons that somebody in this business wants to stay at a place like this when there are other options out there, is that you feel like you’ve got great people in the trenches with you, people there to support you and give you what you need to be successful. Oklahoma’s always done that personally for me. They’ve always done that for this football program. It means a ton, and I think a lot of people believe in the direction, the trajectory of this program right now. We certainly do.
“And to have the support of so many good people behind you, again, that’s what makes this place special. So I’m very thankful for it and very excited about the future.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider