During Riley’s first official media session since the blockbuster move was announced, he was unsurprisingly asked about his thoughts on the move. Like any head coach probably would, he said that his focus will stay on the 2021 season.
Riley came up with a strong analogy to describe his feelings about the Sooners’ move to the SEC. He compared the eventual jump to scheduling a non-conference game well down the road. He explained that he’s excited for what the future holds, but won’t get ahead of himself and look past this year.
Lincoln Riley says move to the SEC is like scheduling an exciting non-conference game well down the road. Says there’s excitement but that the focus is on the 2021 season
— Ryan Aber (@ryaber) August 5, 2021
As a head coach, Riley’s answer makes a lot of sense. Oklahoma has high expectations to get back to the College Football Playoff this season and won’t want to have all of the realignment chatter distract them.
The Sooners should be in good position to be the frontrunners to win a Big 12 Championship in 2021. With Spencer Rattler under center and the improvement that the defense showed in the latter half of the 2020 season, Riley and co. seem poised to walk away with their seventh straight conference title.
Although last year’s 8-2 year resulted in another conference championship win, Oklahoma will need to clean up its play during the regular season to avoid early losses. The Sooners fell out of the playoff conversation early on and didn’t get enough help down the stretch to get back into the discussion.
Many fans are thoroughly excited to see Oklahoma, and arch-rival Texas, make the eventually leap to the SEC, but for now there will be plenty to enjoy in the Big 12.
The Sooners will open up their 2021 season on Sept. 4 against Tulane.