Lincoln Riley is making sure people understand a key detail about his handling of outside interests from other programs while coaching in Oklahoma.
In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Low, Riley made a very clear distinction between answering calls himself and letting his agent handle them:
(Riley speaks here; Low’s question is in italics)
You are on one of two lists as a head coach. You are on a list to be fired or you are on a list of other people who want to hire you. And he’s right. I never had a year in Oklahoma where people didn’t call in season. I never submitted to it. It never shook me. It never has anything to do with me doing my job. I took a phone call in seven years at OU, and it was the phone call from USC after the Oklahoma State game. It’s the only phone call I’ve ever taken – ever. I didn’t take a single call from the NFL. I didn’t take any.
When you say you didn’t take any calls, they’re calling your agent, right?
Riley: Yes, 100%. But that’s why you have an agent, why you have that buffer, because you can’t control when the phone is going to ring, but you have a job to do in those times. I always felt that I was able to stay focused on the task at hand. Nobody ever said a word about it when NFL teams were calling, and we were winning a bunch. I am a professional. I will do the work entrusted to me. Moreover, especially now, there are no secrets. If I had gotten involved with these guys before, people would have known about it. And, again, people who know me know I would never do that.
Some people might think it’s pointless to make this distinction, especially if an agent is personally motivated to make more money by giving their client a better deal. Yet Riley argues that getting personally invested in a job is tied to personally taking a phone call.
Many people will surely debate the significance (or lack thereof) of this single detail.