Lincoln Riley named top-5 NFL coaching candidate by multiple ESPN experts

  • Matt Jennings
  • Diehards
1:49 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 Sports

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley would be one of the top picks for multiple ESPN analysts if they were tasked with hiring the next coach of an NFL franchise.

According to an  ESPN survey of 45 of its league experts, three of them would have the Sooners coach as one of their top five NFL head coaching candidates. Riley received one vote each for third, fourth and fifth place, giving him 6 points total.

The group of experts included reporters, analysts and former players who work for ESPN. Each ballot included five names, but no one was allowed vote for a current NFL head coach. This doesn’t necessarily mean any NFL teams are going after Riley, but it does mean he has garnered enough respect to be considered a great NFL coaching candidate after just one year of head coaching experience.

The Oklahoma coach impressed people in his first season running the program after Bob Stoops’ retirement in June 2017. Riley led the Sooners (12-2) to a Big 12 Championship and a College Football Playoff berth, while coaching quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Heisman Trophy. The Sooners fell one game short of the national championship in Riley’s first year, falling to Georgia 54-48 in double overtime in the Rose Bowl.

Riley received the most votes of any current Big 12 coach. TCU coach Gary Patterson received one second-place vote, worth 4 points. Riley’s former coach at Texas Tech, Mike Leach, received four votes for 10 points total. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was the No. 1 choice in the survey, garnering 24 votes for 95 points.

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