Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione rarely attended media days when Bob Stoops was coaching the Sooners. It wasn’t due to his comfort level with the former Sooners coach (though he most certainly was comfortable with Stoops) as much as it was that Castiglione found other ways to spend his time in mid-July with the new season approaching a few weeks later.
But when new Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley made his first appearance at Big 12 Media Days on Monday, Castiglione made the three-hour drive south to Frisco, Texas, for his new coach’s debut.
“I wanted to be here for Lincoln and the players,” Castiglione said.
Castiglione estimated it was his first media days in “6-8 years.” And after watching Riley’s strong effort, he had high marks for his rookie coach.
The OU athletic director intently watched Riley’s morning news conference, but did not follow him to television interviews or in breakout groupings in the afternoon. And after seeing him as the most popular interviewee Monday, Castiglione was pleased by how Riley interacted with the media in his debut.
“I thought he handled himself the way he has always handled himself,” Castiglione said. “Direct. Informational. On point. With class. He’s handled this transition at least in the six weeks really with an amazing level of comfort. It’s been good.”
He said the transition from Stoops to Riley will result in several subtle changes in the OU program, but nothing major.
“Keep in mind Lincoln has been involved in what we’ve done the last few years very efficiently and effectively,” Castiglione said. “So there wasn’t a need to make massive changes much. There are a few things he wanted to do a little differently. The way we did them before went perfectly. Just a different approach with his style.”
Castiglione said that he expects Stoops to remain in an active role with the program. His new role as special adviser to the athletic director will keep him close to his former players and assistants, though to what extent is still fluid.
“I think that remains to be seen,” Castiglione said. “I haven’t wanted to rush that stuff. I’m being very mindful and respectful of the process.”