NCAAF
November 29, 2021

Ranking The 5 Best Options To Replace Lincoln Riley As Head Coach Of The Oklahoma Sooners

In a stunning turn of events, Oklahoma head coach, Lincoln Riley has left the program to become the next head coach at USC. There have been some rumors that Riley was not pleased with the decision for Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 for the SEC. True or not, Riley is gone, and the Sooners need a new coach.

Obviously, this is a frustrating day for Oklahoma fans, players, and staffers, but this is a top-five job in college football. The Oklahoma Sooners will be fine. They have the money, the prestige, and the players right now to hire a top-name in college football. 

This means that we have another high-profile job in college football opening up, and thanks to the oddsmakers at SportsLine we have the odds for the next coach at Oklahoma (except for one of them). With all of that being said, let's get into the best candidates to become the next head coach of the Oklahoma Sooner

5. Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson (+400)

Venables has been extremely important to the success of Clemson over the past decade. Since taking over as the defensive coordinator at Clemson in 2012, his defenses always rank towards the top in total defense. Before becoming the defensive coordinator at Clemson, Venables spent four seasons as a linebackers coach with Oklahoma, and from 2004-2011, he was the Sooner's defensive coordinator before being replaced by Mike Stoops.

While he has never held an FBS coaching job, Venables is only 50-years-old, and Clemson is starting to finally show signs of decline. If there is any time for Venables to go take that inevitable head coaching job, now is the time. 

The only problem is, would hiring a defensive-minded coach vibe well with an offensive-centric program?

4. Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky (+500)

It makes a little too much sense for the younger brother of an Oklahoma coaching legend to take over the Sooners.

First of all, Bob Stoops is beloved in Norman, and that love has only grown with him volunteering to coach the Sooners in their bowl game. Hiring his younger brother would likely be a very popular move. Secondly, Mark Stoops has turned Kentucky into a solid SEC team, and he has probably reached his peak at that program. 

 Stoops probably won't be the Kentucky coach for the rest of his career, especially since he is only 54-years-old. If there was any job for Stoops to jump ship and go take, it would be at Oklahoma. 

3. Luke Fickell, Head Coach, Cincinnati (+700)

Now, I do not honestly think that Fickell is going to leave Cincinnati, but if I were in charge of the coaching search for the Sooners, I would make Fickell tell me "No" straight to my face before I give up on him. 

What he has done at Cincinnati has been simply incredible. At the time of me writing this, he is one win away from the Bearcats being the first group of five team to make the CFP. Like Venables, he is a defensive-minded coach, but his development of the players he recruits is what makes him stand out. 

You can point to his season as the interim coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes as a red flag, but that program was in a bad place, and those were not his players. Fickell was put in an impossible spot. 

Fickell is a Midwest guy, so I find it hard to believe that he would leave a job that he has gained multiple years of job security for a program that expects to win now, especially with that job being in Oklahoma, but he is worth the call.

2. Kellen Moore, Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys (Odds N/A)

The Boise State quarterback legend has never had a coaching job in college, but he would be the perfect fit for the Sooners. Moore is only 33-years-old and has the Cowboys as the best offense in the NFL. 

The question becomes, how well would he recruit? Anyone who takes over for Oklahoma will eventually have to compete not only on the field but on the recruiting trail in the SEC. That means you have to explain to 18-year-olds why you should come to play for Oklahoma rather than Alabama, LSU, or Georgia. 

The good news for Moore, if he becomes the next coach at Oklahoma, is that all he has to do is show these recruits the tape of his offenses with the Cowboys. An up-and-coming offensive guru in the game going to a program that has built its reputation on offense for the past few years would make a lot of sense. The only obstacle of hiring Moore is you would have to surround him with some top recruiters. 

1. Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, Ole Miss (+500)

WOO, WOO, HERE COMES THE LANE-TRAIN!

Rumors are already flying everywhere that Kiffin would take the Miami job if it opened up, and there are rumors that LSU will go after him as well. Kiffin very famously left Tennessee after only one season to go to USC, so anything is possible. 

It just makes too much sense for Kiffin to be the next Oklahoma head coach. He is an offensive genius, he is fun, he recruits well, and he has pulled Ole Miss out of irrelevance after only two seasons. If Caleb Williams stays with the Sooners, he has a superstar quarterback to mold, just like did with Matt Corrall at Ole Miss. 

With Oklahoma leaving for the SEC in the future, Kiffin could establish that SEC culture early so that there is a smooth transition. Oklahoma is a big-time job, and Kiffin is a big-time coach. Do not overthink this, just make the call and give Kiffin what he wants. 

Photo: Getty Images