Sport Big 12 Media Days: Lincoln Riley's big-game rep worth watching in Year 1

00:11  18 july  2017
00:11  18 july  2017 Source:   Sporting News

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Football media days for the Big 12 are scheduled Monday and Tuesday in Frisco, Texas. So then, following are 10 questions, along with two bonus inquiries as we brace for another season. Is Lincoln Riley , at 33, up to the task at Oklahoma?

Big 12 Media Days football schedule. Ford Center at The Star in Frisco. Iowa State, Matt Campbell, 11:50 a.m. Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley , 12:25 p.m. Tuesday coach press conferences.

Lincoln Riley© (Getty Images) Lincoln Riley Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had a nickname.

For better or worse, Stoops was dubbed "Big Game Bob." Stoops lost some big games on the big stage for the Sooners, but he won a few more through an 18-year tenure that produced double-digit Big 12 championships and a national title in 2000.

New coach Lincoln Riley has a label, but it remains to be seen if a nickname will follow. Riley, 33, is among a list of just five Power 5 coaches younger than 40, a list that included Minnesota's P.J. Fleck, Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, Iowa State's Matt Campbell and Maryland's D.J. Durkin. You can see the difference right away.

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Riley said at Big 12 media day Monday at Ford Center. “Would you rather take over the one (program) that’ s struggling so maybe the standards are a little bit lower or the one that’ s better? I ’ve always envisioned it being more like this.

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Riley isn't in charge of a rebuild like those coaches were. He's in charge of a school with a two-time Heisman finalist at quarterback in Baker Mayfield, one that's expected to compete for a national title. Is that how Riley wanted to make a name for himself as a first-time head coach?

"I've always envisioned it being more like this," Riley said at Big 12 Media Day on Monday. "Of course you get the pressure with it. Of course, the expectations are there to win, like they always are at Oklahoma. But that's something that I enjoy. That's why you come to play and coach at Oklahoma, and that's to win and win big."

Riley, at least on the surface, appears comfortable in this spot. And he's balancing the lessons learned from Stoops while not trying to simply be, as he called it, "Stoops 2.0."

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It's a safe bet Oklahoma isn't going to fall off the national radar, especially this year. The Sooners have Mayfield at quarterback, and that's a heck of a start. Oklahoma has a high-powered offense and remain the favorites to win the Big 12 until Texas, Oklahoma State or anybody else can prove otherwise.

"Big Game Bob" won a lot of big games in the Big 12, and Riley contributed to that with a full-throttle offense the last two seasons. The Sooners were 10-3 against top 25 opponents the last two seasons, and the lone team outside of the top 10 to beat Oklahoma was No. 15 Houston in 2016. Oklahoma was 3-2 against Top 10 teams in the same stretch, with losses to No. 1 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State.

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The Sooners, however, didn't lose to a top 25 team in the Big 12, and that included wins against top 10 teams in No. 4 Baylor (2015), No. 9 Oklahoma State (2015) and No. 10 West Virginia (2016). That's the standard Riley knows must be met first. He doesn't see a drop-off coming.

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Now, they will become everybody' s story angle beginning with Big 12 media days July 17-18 in Frisco. I 'm a big believer in that." Tale of the tape. A look at new Texas coach Tom Herman and new Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley

"In the last two years, we've been in the top five and been in the playoff once and honestly we're one game away nonconference-wise from being in it again," Riley said. "So I think if we continue to do our part it will be great for Oklahoma and great for the Big 12."

That will be the biggest question for Riley over the next few seasons. Will Oklahoma still carry the Big 12? Or will one of those other schools take over? Oklahoma State has an opportunity with Mike Gundy now. The Cowboys also have a star quarterback in Mason Rudolph. Texas has their guy in Tom Herman now, and the early returns have been solid on the recruiting trail.

These are the biggest challenges for Riley not just in Year 1, but for his entire tenure in Norman. Riley said among Stoops' many attributes, "having a pulse for the team" was the most impressive characteristic. The comparisons will always be there, but for now Riley said the council of Stoops and Barry Switzer has prepared him for this job. This isn't "Stoops 2.0," even if the blueprint won't have major alterations in Year 1.

"That will be one of my challenges is to find a way to still be myself but not discount all the lessons from him and the other guys I have worked for and with over the past several years," Riley said.

In other words, the pulse has changed for the Sooners. It's much younger and unproven. Riley doesn't have a nickname yet, but it won't take long to find one.

That first big game is Sept. 9 at Ohio State.

Texas’ Tom Herman: ‘You can never get used to losing’ .
Tom Herman made a strong impression in his first Big 12 media days appearance as Texas’ head coach. Herman on Tuesday took the baton from Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley as the Ford Center’s star attraction, and he didn’t disappoint during his opening press conference.

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