Oklahoma's rivalry with SEC continues with new coach Riley

This Dec. 2, 2017 photo shows Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley making a call from the sideline in the second half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU in Arlington, Texas. The SEC has run roughshod over most of college football in recent years, but not over Oklahoma. The Sooners beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl after the 2013 season and Auburn in the Sugar Bowl after the 2016 season, with a couple of wins over Tennessee sandwiched in between. The rivalry Bob Stoops started continues with new coach Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma's matchup with Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Most of Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley’s activity on Twitter is limited to emojis and general promotion of his program.

Riley veered slightly from that approach on Tuesday, with an earnest response to what he felt was an unfair categorization of a comment he made this morning on ESPNU radio/SiriusXM host Danny Kanell’s show.

When Riley, Kanell and co-host Taylor Zarzour began discussing the challenge of playing defense in the Big 12, Riley offered this: “If you throw Georgia in the Big 12 every year there is no way they are a top-five defense in the country.”

Georgia fans, with the school's 54-48 win over OU in last season's Rose Bowl fresh on their minds, were not too pleased by that comment, and Footballscoop.com quickly published a story, captioning it with a tweet that read: “Lincoln Riley takes a shot at Georgia [.] #LetTheGamesBegin.”

And the games did begin.

Riley offered a measured statement in response, but it was rare, if only because he infrequently, if ever, uses Twitter to defend himself.

“That’s not a shot at Georgia….they were absolutely one of the best defenses last year…it’s a compliment to our league,” he replied directly to FootballScooop.com.

Of note is that Riley wasn’t only trying to set the record straight for his benefit, but Shane Beamer, a Georgia assistant last season, is one of his newest staff members.

The conversation over Power 5 leagues, offense and defense has become threaded into the DNA of college football.

Would Georgia and Alabama still have dominant defenses in the offense-heavy Big 12? Would Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have prolific offenses in the Southeastern Conference, which annually produces some of the nation’s the top defensive talent? It’s a common debate.

Riley is candid enough to engage in it, taking a page from the book of former OU coach Bob Stoops, who never feared making an argument against what he once called SEC “propaganda" during his tenure. OU still recruits against those schools while trying to upgrade its defense. 

And Riley, as an offensive coordinator, is simultaneously selling his style of offense as part of a shifting tide in college football.

In a conversation with Sports Illustrated last week, he and Albert Breer discussed the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles running plays similar to Riley's in the Super Bowl. The two also dived into NFL teams' interest in Riley's philosophies, and the piece was headlined, "Everybody Wants to Talk to Lincoln Riley." 

"You see what's going on around [the NFL]," Riley said in the piece, "and offensively, it's trending a lot more towards what you see on Saturdays." 

• Sooner commits win Opening: A group of OU verbal commitments united in attempt to win The Opening Finals 7-on-7 tournament at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

They had to fight back from the loser’s bracket, but led by 2019 quarterback Spencer Rattler, Team OverDrive captured the title with a 26-8 victory over Team Boomin’, according to reports.

The OU-centric squad featured 2019 commits Rattler, receiver Trejan Bridges, receiver Theo Wease, receiver Arjei Henderson, tight end Austin Stogner and 2020 running back Jase McLellan. Rattler received help from Tennessee commit Brian Maurer, who took repetitions at quarterback.

Wease, Stogner and Rattler all made the all-tournament team.

Team Boomin’ featured Auburn commits Bo Nix (quarterback) and George Pickens (receiver). The squad was without Jayden Daniels, who is the 2019 class’ No. 2 dual-threat quarterback according to 247sports’ composite ranking, and did not finish the tournament for unknown reasons, according to AL.com.

• WR makes promise: The Red River rivalry began a little early this year.

Wease, the No. 27-ranked overall player nationally according to the 247sports composite, told reporters Tuesday the Sooners are “definitely gonna bury” Texas in the future, according to SBNation.com’s Alex Kirshner.

OU has the nation’s No. 5 2019 recruiting class according to 247sports. It’s ranked No. 4 by Rivals. Texas’ ranks 16th according to both recruiting services.

Wease says he’s simply looking into the future and liking what he sees.

“Honestly, I just think it’s all the recruits buying in and seeing the vision of how we’re about to take over the Big 12,” Wease said.

• Young places OU in Top 3: Four-star 2019 cornerback Erick Young narrowed his finalists to Ohio State, OU and Southern California on Tuesday and still plans on a July 4 announcement.

Young, who is 6-0, 206 pounds and hails from Richmond, Texas, is the 12th-ranked cornerback nationally according to the 247sports composite.

His new list was somewhat surprising, as Texas A&M had been viewed as the leader for Young, but didn’t make the last cut.

Young was in attendance at the opening and seen wearing a USC hoodie.

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