Lincoln Riley's departure 'blindsided' Oklahoma players, coaches, team captain says

Isaiah Thomas
Posted at 10:19 AM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 13:28:05-05

NORMAN, Okla. — The fallout from Lincoln Riley's departure from Oklahoma continued Monday as one of the team captains opened up about the situation on SoonerScoop.

Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas, a Tulsa native and team captain, detailed Riley's meeting with players Sunday about his departure following the team's 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.

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"It really blindsided us all, coaches included," Thomas says.

"It kind of hurt honestly just because of how Coach Riley portrayed himself in the media saying stuff like 'I know where I belong' and all that."

Riley said Saturday before the announcement of his move to USC that he wasn't taking the head coaching job at LSU.

He's headed to the Pac-12 meanwhile whoever takes over at Oklahoma will be headed to the SEC in 2025.

Thomas says that Riley told players that the USC job was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"All in all you have to understand and respect [his decision] because it's just like if I was in the NFL and a team offered me this and another team offered me $10 million with the same position and all that, I would do what's best for me and my family as well," Thomas says.

"I'm not mad at what [Riley] did, it just more so caught us off guard how he did it."

Thomas says he appreciates Riley and thanked him for the opportunities he's given him over his four years at OU.

He's finishing his college career, all under Riley, with 16.5 sacks.

Former Sooners coach Bob Stoops is expected to fill in for the team's bowl game as they'll likely be out of the College Football Playoff picture after missing out on the Big 12 Championship game.

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