Oklahoma mailbag: Is Lincoln Riley ready to join coaching’s elite group?
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Shawn Stapleton asks: ‘Is Lincoln Riley going to get a raise to $7 million a season in June?’
The June meeting of Oklahoma’s board of regents is likely to be lucrative for the Sooners’ coaching staff. That’s when coaches who are on one-year deals have their contracts renewed.
I’ve been given every indication by those inside the program that Riley will get a raise next month. But $7 million a season, which would double his current deal, seems unlikely.
Riley is set to make $3.3 million this season under the terms of the five-year deal he signed when he took over for Bob Stoops last June. That puts him around No. 30 in college football’s highest-paid coaches.
A reasonable raise for an Oklahoma coach coming off a Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff appearance would be to put Riley in the top 20. That would be around the $4.1 million a season range. That’s where I expect Riley to land in June.
But also, I don’t think Riley is actively campaigning for a raise. Since he’s taken over, the Sooners have allowed Riley to increase the support staff and poured millions into facilities. Coaches who are getting everything they want in terms of support don’t tend to constantly try to leverage raises for themselves.
Another matter of note for the June board of regents meeting, which will be held on June 18-19 on campus, is the entire returning coaching staff from last season will likely receive 12 percent raises. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione tends to bestow that on the staff after winning a conference title.
But as far as Riley joining the $7 million-per-year-club, that seems like a reach. Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.1 million), Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($8.5 million) and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7 million) were the only ones in the club last season.
Saban has won five national championships at Alabama. Swinney has a national title ring and three straight College Football Playoff appearances. In retrospect, it looks like Michigan overpaid for Harbaugh, but it did have to lure him away from the NFL, and that was going to demand a hefty paycheck.
Riley doesn’t have their credentials. Not yet, but at 34 years old, he’s on track to get there before too long.