- Gov. Kevin Stitt took a thinly veiled shot at former Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley.
- Stitt contrasted Riley’s move to Southern California with those who have moved to Oklahoma during the pandemic.
- “Freedom-loving Americans cannot escape liberal lockdown states fast enough,” Stitt said.
Oklahoma’s grapes of wrath have turned a bit sour.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday chided former Sooner coach Lincoln Riley for abruptly leaving Norman to lead the USC Trojans, an official sign of the lingering discontent over Riley’s and the team’s former star quarterback’s move to Los Angeles.
“Can you imagine leaving a place like Norman, Oklahoma for a place like Southern California,” Stitt, a Republican, said to a mixture of laughter and applause during his State of the State address. “I mean, who would do that?”
Riley did just that this past winter. Sooner coaching legend Bob Stoops anointed Riley as his successor in 2016. Riley then took the reins and led the Sooners to three College Football playoff berths, four Big 12 titles, and 55 overall wins. But he was unable to get the team over the final hump to a national title game. Riley hastily left the Sooners in November, a move that was put into place just hours after rival Oklahoma State knocked the team out of playoff contention.
Before implicitly trashing Riley, Stitt highlighted the number of people who have moved to Oklahoma during the pandemic. Author John Steinbeck famously depicted Oklahomans fleeing the state for California during the 1930s amid the dust bowl and Great
“Freedom-loving Americans cannot escape liberal lockdown states fast enough,” Stitt said, echoing a theme other top Republican governors have used to bash President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
Riley’s move has nothing to do with politics though. A longtime member of the Big 8 and later Big 12, Oklahoma and its rival Texas are leaving the conference for the SEC sometime soon. If they leave before 2025, both teams would face a massive financial penalty. The SEC is home to five of the last eight national champions, including the Georgia Bulldogs who prevailed in an all-SEC rematch.
A USC representative did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.