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Kirk Herbstreit: Lincoln Riley Could Head To Dallas 'If And When The Cowboys Need A Head Coach'

Lincoln Riley speaks to media after Oklahoma's spring game.

Lincoln Riley to the NFL? We fans of college football certainly aren't rooting for it, and neither is ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit. However, he thinks that the there's a real chance it could happen.

Riley had about as good a debut season as head coach as anyone can reasonably expect. Taking over for a Hall of Fame-level coach in Bob Stoops, he had OU a good half from heading to the national championship game. Under his tutelage, Baker Mayfield became a Heisman Trophy winner, and could be a relatively non-conventional top five pick at quarterback.

The NFL game hasn't opened up as much as college football has. However, innovation in the sport still works its way on up from high school, through college, and eventually into the pros.

Right now, the 34-year old Riley seems like the quintessential offense-minded college coach. The NFL is intrigued though.

According to Herbstreit, nearly every NFL team has reached out to inquire about the Sooners offense this year. Via The Dallas Morning News's Jori Epstein:

Herbstreit thinks one team in particular could bring Lincoln Riley to the NFL.

Jason Garrett has had a long, and very up-and-down tenure as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Taking over as interim head coach in 2010, Garrett has gone 67-53 with the franchise. The 13-3 2016 season, which ended with a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Playoffs, probably bought some goodwill. However, there are plenty of Cowboy fans who feel that he has run his course. Herbstreit thinks that "if and when" the Cowboys have an opening at head coach, Riley could get a call. From the SportsDay article:

"It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the NFL, within a few years, knock on his door and try to get him to leave," Herbstreit told SportsDay on Tuesday. "He's as hot as he can be, as not just a head coach what he did with his first year but also as a playcaller."

Lincoln Riley used to get occasional NFL team picking mind on offense. Per Herbstreit, 28+ NFL teams asked him about Sooners offense this year https://t.co/iGfq4E7VLd

— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) April 17, 2018

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Lincoln Riley used to get occasional NFL team picking mind on offense. Per Herbstreit, 28+ NFL teams asked him about Sooners offense this year https://t.co/iGfq4E7VLd

— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) April 17, 2018

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 [...]

"If and when the Cowboys ever need a head coach..." Herbstreit said, emphasizing he isn't recommending the team fire Garrett, "it wouldn't surprise me if the Jones group considered him."

That probably isn't what Oklahoma fans want to hear, but it definitely wouldn't be a shocking development. As Herbstreit notes, you can't find a faster rising football coach than Lincoln Riley.

[The Dallas Morning News]