NORMAN, Okla. — As all purported sports villains are required to do, Lincoln Riley released an article in The Players' Tribune on Wednesday to explain his situation following his departure from the Oklahoma Sooners.
Riley abruptly left Norman for USC at the end of the football regular season in a move that left the program without a head coach heading into the new year and Alamo Bowl appearance. He'd been the head coach of the Sooners for five seasons.
"As much as my family and I loved Norman and cherished the success we were having on the field, sometimes life throws you curveballs at the most unexpected times," Riley wrote. "Honestly, I always figured I would end my coaching career at OU. But when my agent called me to pass along interest from USC, I was immediately intrigued by the possibilities."
Riley interviewed for and took the job at USC the night after the Sooners' 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State. Players and coaches were reportedly "blindsided" by the move.
"On the plane ride to Los Angeles, so many emotions were flowing through my mind," Riley wrote. "I was so excited about USC and its potential, but I was also filled with some guilt and sadness realizing that Norman was no longer home. There are aspects of my departure and transition that I would certainly do differently if I could do it again, and I acknowledge that I could have handled some parts of the situation better. I absolutely own that."
Riley went on to talk about his arrival at USC and the quick recruiting process once he arrived. The program added several key recruits that had committed to Oklahoma along with some transfers.
The explanation from Riley comes days after his former quarterback Spencer Rattler spoke out about getting benched by Riley last season and his decision to transfer to South Carolina.
"I was just happy to get away from a toxic situation and get somewhere new," Rattler told ESPN.
"Anywhere was going to be better, and I found the right place."
Riley benched Rattler in the middle of the season in favor of true freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. Williams followed Riley to USC through the transfer portal.
"I don't want to get too in depth with it, but it was out of my control, Rattler said. "All I can tell you is that we were undefeated at the time I was benched. We won a championship the year before and were going to win another one. I could go on and on."
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