Houston is still searching to fill the void left by Tom Herman. Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley just may be the answer for the Cougars.
Houston still has yet to fill its head-coaching vacancy after Tom Herman left the school to become the new face of the Texas Longhorns.
While there have been strong indications that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin was being targeted by the Cougars to be Herman’s replacement, a new name has emerged as a possible leading contender: Lincoln Riley.
The Oklahoma offensive coordinator recently had an interview with the Cougars, and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wrote that Riley “hit it out of the park.” He reportedly “killed” the audition, and it would be a surprise at this point if Riley was not the Cougars’ hire.
In addition to Riley and Kiffin, former LSU head coach Les Miles also interviewed with UH, with Riley’s talks being “ahead of the others” in terms of making a strong impression.
Bringing aboard the 33-year-old Sooners OC would be a wise move for the Cougars. He knows the state of Texas very well from his eight years with Mike Leach at Texas Tech, as well as his work with OU head coach Bob Stoops since January 2015. Riley is also one of the smartest offensive minds in the country, as the Sooners made the College Football Playoff in his first year and were also in the mix this fall after two early losses. In addition, quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook were just named Heisman Trophy finalists.
There’s no question that the arrival of Kiffin has helped Alabama adapt to the current offensive climate across the country, so the former Tennessee and USC head coach could be on the verge of getting a head gig again even if it’s not at Houston. Riley’s strong work at OU, though, has also put him in a position to earn a promotion. Whichever direction UH takes, it is apparent that the program wants to keep a potent offense, and an offensive-minded head coach will be the most likely choice.
Bringing in Riley would also continue a long line of rising assistants that have held the Houston gig. Before Herman, Sumlin and Art Briles led the Houston program and made it an attractive Group of Five job.