ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley addressed the media in a press conference at day one of Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Here's what Riley had to say:
On new faces on the offensive side of the ball
"A lot of new faces on the offensive side of the football with obviously having a new quarterback this year, four new offensive linemen, but (we) return quite a few skilled guys around those players. Should be a great year. We're very, very excited about it and looking forward to a new challenge with a new group, but that's one of the best parts about coaching college football. Thankful for the opportunity to coach at this place and a chance to do it at one of the great conferences in America."
On Kennedy Brooks being reinstated to the team after Title IX investigation
"Referring back to the statement we put out, Kennedy was reinstated back to the team late last week. He's back full-go with our guys. During the process I was not involved at all. Not updated at all. That's a process that our school takes very seriously and we leave that to the people that their job is to handle that and when they do we take it from there"
On how players are adjusting to new defensive system
"I think for us it was first in spring football getting a baseline of schematically what we wanted to do and more importantly starting to understand the mentality that we want to play with defensively, and I think Alex (Grinch) and his staff have done a great job setting the foundation with that for our players. When you get to summer you only get eight hours a week with these guys, which is not very much. So they've got to know what they need to work on, so a lot of spring for us was educating them on things we need to do to get better. You can't get it all done at once, it is a step-by-step process and we do have to get better at it each day. But I think our guys had a good concept of the things they needed to improve on from a mentality standpoint and physical standpoint and learning and understanding schematically what we want to do. I think it's a process. I think it's a hungry group. There are a lot of guys that have played a lot of ball and they're eager to play their very best ball."
On how transfer Jalen Hurts has adjusted to learning a new scheme
"It's certainly been different. He brings game experience that Baker and Kyler did not have when they got here, but also doesn't have as much experience in the system. It has been quicker but it's been fun. He's been eager. There have been things that we do that he's been able to trace back kind of the roots to different things that he's done at Alabama or even in high school. So it's not like you're starting from scratch. It's a fun process. He's a smart kid. He's eager and works very hard at it, and we have meshed together well."
On if he thinks his offense will perform worse than in 2018, and if the defense can make up for that
"We don't plan on the offense dipping. The second part of that, we definitely expect our defense to be better. I don't think there is any doubt. That's why we have recruited as hard as we have. That's why we made the changes on the coaching staff that we've made."
On why he and his staff recruit so many players from the Dallas area
"It's a critical area for us and it has been historically and even maybe more so in the last few years. It's almost like our second home base, really, the state of Oklahoma and then the Metroplex and those are absolutely critical for us, for the distance, the number of games that we play here each year, the talent, the coaching that you get here in the Metroplex area. We devote a lot of our resources to this area, a lot of our coaches are here many, many days throughout the year. We've got a good familiarity and trust with the coaches in this area, so a lot of respect for this area. We have had so many of our great players have come from here and we certainly hope that can continue."
On the season opener against Houston
"Houston is a really good football team. Has been a really good program for the last several years, have a lot of respect for the players they have, one of the best returning quarterbacks in the country, without a doubt, and a lot of talented players around him. I've got a ton of respect for Coach Holgorsen. We have known each other for a long time. We've coached against each other here for a number of years. He does a tremendous job. He has at all the stops, and I am sure he will do so at Houston. I'm sure it will be a tough opener for us."
On how his team deals with expectations after two consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and four consecutive Big 12 championships
"That's always a challenge. It's complacency, not letting it set in and for returning guys. Not assuming it's going to happen because it did before, and for new guys not assuming it's going to happen because the players did it before, when I wasn't there. It's a new team, a new challenge. I think the expectations and standard of Oklahoma football are so high that it almost helps a little bit in a funny way. It almost helps you refocus in that, yeah, the last four were great, but what about the fifth one? That's the mindset around the program. I think we've got a good culture. I think our guys understand and have a healthy respect for how difficult each and every championship has been, each and every win has been. We have had to play our tails off and coach our tails off to get it done, and that's how it should be in the Big 12 and to make another run will be just as difficult if not more difficult and it will take everything we have."
On quarterback Austin Kendall transferring to West Virginia
"I was always going to let him go to West Virginia. That was no issue. That's part of these new rules is we can't restrict them from going anywhere. My contention was I had a concern about a player being able to transfer and be immediately eligible the very next year in our league. I don't think that's healthy for the league. In the end, I think my personal relationship with Austin and his family, the fact that he took a chance and came out to Oklahoma when I first got there, the fact that I was kind of with him every step of the way, I think the personal side of it overtook maybe more the business side of it from my head and my views on it haven't changed. I still don't really agree with it but I realize in that moment I wanted to do the best thing for the kid and I couldn't get past the personal side of it."
On the Big 12's reputation for high-scoring offenses
"I think there will always be really good offenses in this league. I do. But I think the league will continue to evolve. I think there are too many good coaches, too many good players, too many programs that maybe had been down for a few years that are showing a lot of promise right now. You could name several right now off the bat in this league. I think it's healthy for the league. I think great offense will be played in this league. I think great defense will be played in this league and I think the future for this league is as bright as any league in the country. I really do."