OU football: Lincoln Riley not interested in verbal spat with TCU
NORMAN — The bad blood might have started long before, but the OU-TCU story that has drawn attention this week dates to Nov. 11.
That was the date of OU’s last meeting against TCU in Norman. The Sooners won in convincing fashion, but not without a little controversy.
Before the game, Baker Mayfield was video throwing an errant pass that hit TCU safety Niko Small in the head. Small played in that game, but missed the next two with an apparent head injury.
In the little back-and-forth that came later, OU coach Lincoln Riley didn’t make much of the incident, but he did put a little blame on TCU.
“They ran right through the middle of our warm ups,” Riley said. “When you do that, things like that can happen.”
This week in Fort Worth, coach Gary Patterson said TCU didn’t run through warmups. Instead, he criticized OU for having too many recruits and others on the sidelines.
“We couldn’t get on the field, either side,” Patterson said. “We asked the guy that was in charge, and he said, ‘I don’t know which way to send you.’ Even as the head coach, I had to go through their warm-up lines to get over to our end of the field. And I wouldn’t have said anything if Coach Riley wouldn’t have said, if he hadn’t made the remark that, ‘Well, those things happen,’ (that) our guy got hit with the ball because we were running through their stretch lines.”
Patterson also said throwing at players during warmups used to be common practice at Texas Tech, and insinuated Mayfield’s throw was indeed intentional.
“Baker played at Texas Tech and Lincoln was at Texas Tech, and I have a coach that was at Texas Tech,” Patterson said. “It was common practice. There was a Texas Tech pretty well-known quarterback that hit a guy from A&M in the head, and they all thought it was funny, to throw balls and do those kinds of things, back in those days. It’s their prerogative. They can do whatever they want. We’re just not going to do them here.”
Wednesday night in Norman, Riley was not as interested in firing back.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Riley said. “I’m just ready to play. I’m ready to coach.”
Asked if throwing at players was actually a practice at Texas Tech, Riley responded with some sarcasm.
“Apparently, yeah,” he said.
Riley was asked again about unwritten rules in football, but didn’t incite any further debate with TCU or Patterson.
“Oh I don’t know,” he said. “It’s stuff that gets made into a big deal that’s, at the end of the day, it’s not that big a deal. We all know there’s things you do and don’t do. But I mean this, this is not a big deal. I had not put two seconds of thought into it, and I don’t plan on doing it either.”
Here’s more of what Riley said in his last meeting with reporters before Saturday’s Big 12 title game:
Riley said OU coaches have been congratulating offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh for being named a finalist for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s best assistant coach. They might also have been teasing him to take a little more credit.
“It was awesome,” Riley said. “Very much well deserved, and I think kind of maybe some recognition for our offensive line there on how well they played. And recognition for the whole team and how well the team’s done and how well the offense was played. Bill’s been a big, big part of our success. There’s no doubt. So he’s very deserving. I was lucky enough to get to experience (the Broyles Award), and it’s an incredible event, and I’m glad he’s going to get to experience it, too.”
Riley said it’s good for the Big 12 that Iowa State coach Matt Campbell signed a long-term extension rather than taking another job.
“I was glad he stayed,” Riley said. “It’s good to keep great coaches in this league, and he obviously has done a tremendous job there. I think it says a lot. He’s probably a guy, I don’t know, you would think he probably had a couple of options. And it shows that he has, not only faith in Iowa State, but faith in this league, the competitiveness.”