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OU President Joseph Harroz address controversies around Sooners coach Roy Manning, Lincoln Riley's USC departure

Joseph Harroz

OU president Joseph Harroz at a press conference on Nov. 29.

OU President Joseph Harroz addressed controversies surrounding Lincoln Riley’s departure from Oklahoma to Southern California at the university’s Board of Regents meeting on Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Riley left OU to become the head coach at USC on Nov. 28. The next morning, Riley flew from a private hangar at Will Rogers airport in Oklahoma City to Los Angeles ahead of his introduction with the Trojans. While with the Sooners, Riley compiled a 55-10 record, four Big 12 Championships and three College Football Playoff appearances.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, director of football operations Clarke Stroud and director of sports performance Bennie Wylie joined Riley on the flight, and were later confirmed to be joining Riley’s new staff. This left many to speculate if more OU personnel would do the same, such as cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, who was hired at Oklahoma in January 2019.

Class of 2022 receivers Robert Jennings and Xavion Brice both tweet that Manning, alongside interim head coach Bob Stoops, had recruiting visits to their homes on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30, respectively, making it appear Manning decided to stay in Norman. However, 2022 cornerback Domani Jackson told 247Sports’ Greg Biggins that Manning contacted him on USC’s behalf.

“Right now, we’re focused on (our) key goals,” Harroz said of rumors surrounding Manning. “A lot of this we’ll deal with in turn. Right now, it is to go recruit that next OU head football coach. I know (Manning’s situation) is being looked at by a lot of areas, but in terms of my attention and focus mine is on the head coach.”

Manning is still listed as part of the Sooners’ coaching staff on OU’s team website.

Since Riley’s departure, additional speculation has arisen that he had been flying to the West Coast at OU’s expense to recruit to USC during his last few weeks with the program. The Los Angeles Times reported USC’s courtship of Riley began in September

In an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on Nov. 29, Riley said his discussions with the Trojans began the morning after Oklahoma’s 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State on Nov. 27. When Van Pelt asked for clarification, Riley said USC actually contacted him the night of his Bedlam loss.

“There's a lot of discussion out there,” Harroz said. “And right now, as you can imagine, there's not a whole lot of time for interest in what happened. It’s what’s going to happen for us. And so my focus is right now (and) totally forward looking."

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and The Daily's enterprise editor. Previously, he served as The Daily's assistant sports editor and covered OU football. He graduates in May 2022.

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