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December 30, 2017

Lincoln Riley

Pasadena, California

Q. What happened to Baker Mayfield?
LINCOLN RILEY: He's sick. We're trying to push him to get better. Trying to just get over the hump. Haven't been able to get over the hump.

Q. (Question regarding Baker Mayfield.)
LINCOLN RILEY: He was pretty sick on the trip out. Got a little worse there for a couple of days, and hopefully starting to level off now.

Q. (Question regarding Baker Mayfield.)
LINCOLN RILEY: We've limited him in some areas. Energy level is not normal for him right now. But nothing major as far as having to remove him or him just not physically being able to do anything.

Q. (Question regarding Baker Mayfield.)
LINCOLN RILEY: No, I think he'll be ready to play. He'll be ready to play. Will he be at 100% physically? We'll see. But he's not going to miss this one.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, yeah, we've practiced well. Our guys have been tuned in. I feel like we've found a good balance between enjoying the bowl and enjoying all the events, but also guys being ready and understanding what we've got at stake, so, workouts have been great.

Q. (Question regarding Baker Mayfield.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, his spirits have been good. He understands it's a part of it. Pushing through it like any of our guys would. I wouldn't say he's down about it. He's just battling through it, and just trying to turn the corner.

I don't think he's far away from turning the corner, but still hasn't done it yet.

Q. What is the biggest thing (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, there's a lot. Just the -- there's just not many holes. Great defenses I believe make you earn every single yard. They don't give you anything. To play well offensively against a group like them, you've got to be razor sharp, and if you're not, they can expose you in a heartbeat.

So just they've got great players across the board. They've got a great leader in the middle. Really, really good depth, a great scheme. So, I mean, they're as good as we've faced in a long time.

Q. Coach, you get a month off, how much do you worry about unscouted looks you could see from the other team? How much are you working on stuff they've never seen before?
LINCOLN RILEY: I'm not going to tell you that (laughing).

Q. But is it a focus of you when you worry about them?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, I don't know. I don't know if you say "worry." I mean, I'm sure both teams will do a few things new. That normally happens in these bowls. That's part of it. And that's part of the guessing game. That's part of the fun of it.

So you just hope you've done enough for your group that you're ready to be sharp, because we know we'll have to be to play the way we want to play against them.

Q. With that month off, are you worried about the rhythm of your guys, especially with Baker being sick and in practice and stuff?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, not really. We've had good work. We'll give him a few days off after the end of the season. After that, we've had good work. I think we'll be ready to play well.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: A little bit, a little bit.

Q. Is it something that started back home and it didn't get better when he got here?
LINCOLN RILEY: He was starting to get sick when we returned back to Norman, which we were only there a few hours before we flew out here. So, then it progressed a little bit here earlier in the week.

Q. Is that just unfortunate from being on planes and having to shake hands and doing all that? Do you think that's part of it?
LINCOLN RILEY: Maybe. I don't know if it's that or just went home and just happened to get sick. It's just one of those deals. He'll deal with it, we'll deal with it. I don't think it will be a big factor in this game.

Q. Is he staying at the hotel instead of practicing?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much. He's been pretty limited. Just trying to get him through practice, and I'm trying to let him rest and, like I said, trying to get on top of it.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: I wouldn't say any more than normal. We've repped him a lot this year. I haven't gone into a game where I felt like if the situation called for it that he couldn't come in and play very well. And I feel the same way this week.

Q. Is there any sense of panic or concern with your team or players about how well he's going to be able to perform?

Q. You're not concerned how limited he might be?

Q. Other than that, how's the week been going?
LINCOLN RILEY: The week's been good. It's kind of everything you hoped and felt like the Rose Bowl would be. We've been taken care of. It's been a great venue, the events have been great. I'm happy with the way our guys have handled everything that comes with the Rose Bowl, all the attention of the College Football Playoff.

I think we've prepped well, and I think we're ready to play well.

Q. What impresses you about your opponent? What have you been most impressed about watching Georgia?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I'd just say as a team I've been asked a lot about them defensively. But as a team, there are very few weaknesses. They're good everywhere. They've played really well offensively. They're very strong on special teams.

We all know how good they are defensively, so they just -- a lot of teams you'd say, well, maybe they're not as good here or as good there. You find more holes and weaknesses that you feel like you can expose.

But these guys are really, really good all the way around. You're going to have to play really well on all three sides of the ball to beat them.

Q. Did anybody else catch the strain or anything?
LINCOLN RILEY: We've got a few guys here and there that have been a little sick. But I don't know that anybody's had exactly what he's had. Yeah, I thinks his deal is a little more isolated.

Q. Is it food, is it a stomach bug?
LINCOLN RILEY: I'm not going to get too specific. He's just sick right now.

Q. (Indiscernible) has his maturity level really helped him?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think so. He's done this a lot. He's probably been the most interviewed player. And we've given him a lot of access here over the last couple years.

So he's been there. He's been through all of this. I think he understands how to handle it as well as anybody.

Q. You have such a high-scoring team with such a low-scoring defensive team, how do you see this game playing out? You're used to playing in big high-scoring affairs?
LINCOLN RILEY: Some games we are. I think Columbus it was 3-3 at halftime. Some games have been. I think nobody knows how this one's going to play out. The great teams find a way to win it regardless if it's low-scoring, high-scoring or whatever it is. So we've got to find a way to get it done either way.

Q. (Question regarding Baker Mayfield.)
LINCOLN RILEY: I think he understands it's the best thing for him right now. His attitude has been fine. He's pushing hard to get past it. But other than his energy level and all that being a little down, I haven't really seen any differences in him.

Q. Is he just practicing and back to the hotel?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, pretty much, pretty much.

Q. Is today's workout (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: It is, it is. We're on kind of our normal game-week type routine right now. So this is our Thursday, yes?

Q. Is this kind of like the scenario for a young head coach? This is something nobody ever anticipated, having the starting quarterback having some turmoil here Rose Bowl week?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, shoot, we're at the Rose Bowl. We're in the national semifinal, we've got a good team. He's going to be ready to play. It's a great scenario.

Q. Throughout the year you've talked about opposing team and staying out on defense. Where does (indiscernible) stand out?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, he's the best player we've played against, no doubt. We've played against some really good ones, but he's special. The things he does for that defense, the plays that he makes, how consistent he is, he jumps off the tape every single game.

Q. Is it speed?
LINCOLN RILEY: It's everything. He looks like he has great instincts and great command of what they're doing schematically. He plays hard, he's physical, and he can get sideline to sideline. He is a complete player.

Q. With their offense, what is it going to be like game planning for that running attack?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, they do a great job. They put you in some tough situations defensively, and they do it with really good players. They complement each other well. The backs obviously are good. They're strong up front. The young quarterbacks play well, and they've got some guys on the edge that can beat you.

So they put you in some tough situations, like you'd expect a good team would.

Q. I remember talking with you back in July at Media Day, and you weren't surprised at the talent that you guys have. The question is what has been the biggest surprise to you about this team?
LINCOLN RILEY: I would say how our young players have played, how they've handled all this. We've just got so many guys that weren't even a part of this program last year that have been big-time key contributors -- Tre Norwood, Tre Brown, CeeDee, Trey Sermon, Marquise Brown, Jeff Badet. I mean, there's -- we've got a lot. Kenneth Murray, obviously. We've got a lot that have played really well. Grant Calcaterra.

So that group came in ready to play and had a good mindset about them.

Q. You've been asked this all year, it seems like it's gotten old, but (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, not yet. It's just locked in. Again, doing my part, doing my job for this team, and trying to get us ready to play.

Q. You mentioned Baker being down but you're not worried about it. Do you miss him at all for the young guys?
LINCOLN RILEY: I think it would be a bigger deal if he was our only leader. We're lucky we've got pretty strong leadership on both sides of the ball.

So I don't think it's affected our group. Our energy level and intensity has been really good.

Q. Can you talk about your support staff? How do they treat you?
LINCOLN RILEY: Well dressed. There you go.

Q. Can you quantify what Baker has?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't go in depth, I'm sorry, with that. He's sick, and that's as far as we're going to go with it. I'm sorry.

Q. Are you confident he'll play?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, he'll play. He'll play, yeah.

Q. I'm curious, of the four coaches that are in the Playoff (indiscernible), and that seems pretty common in sports. It's not necessarily that great players bring great coaches (indiscernible). Do you have a theory for why that is? Have you ever thought about that?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, not much, honestly. It's interesting. Yeah, maybe there is something to it. The guys that have had to in a way come up the hard way in this business. I think if you weren't an elite player at the college or pro level, you had to really love the game to stay with it.

So maybe that's more where it lies, is that despite all that, we've all had a strong love and passion for this game, and that's helped us get to this point.

Q. Do you think you really have to maximize your talent if you want to succeed at all, that comes from having a good knowledge of the game?
LINCOLN RILEY: Sure, I think that definitely ties in. We all know how competitive this game is. Yeah, for all of us. Whether playing or coaching, if you're not at your best, it shows up pretty quickly.

Q. Do you think that you can relate to players who aren't (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: Possibly. Possibly you've been in those shoes and you understand that. Yeah, I think it helps. But I think if you can relate to guys, you can do it regardless if it's a star player or not.

Q. How young were you when you realized you wanted to be a coach, like seriously?
LINCOLN RILEY: I would say in high school I felt like I wanted this game probably to be a part of my life.

But I don't know that you ever know until you actually do it. You think you know, but probably until I started as a student assistant at Tech after I got done playing, and then I got a taste of it. The second I got the taste of it, I knew that was going to be it.

Q. Did you have a back-up career plan?
LINCOLN RILEY: Not really, no. Good thing this one worked out.

Q. What do you remember about Trey's recruitment?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it was a competitive recruitment. He's over here kind of in that part of the world, you know. Local to so many schools, ACC, SEC. And he was a great player. We didn't know how feasible it was. There was some strong interest, and the more we got to know the kid, we just felt really strongly that he was -- the player part was easy.

But we learned pretty quickly that he was the type of person that we wanted. So we pushed hard, and I give him a lot of credit. Even after he committed, everybody was knocking down his door, and he stood firm with us, just like we did with him.

Q. They say commitment only means they know who to beat now. Was Georgia the primary competition, do you remember?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, there was a lot. I mean, you name it, early, late. I remember the couple times I went to school to see him, it was me and ten other coaches it seemed like every single time.

But we had a great relationship. Jay Boulware did a great job recruiting him. Yeah, it worked. He came out that spring and fell in love with the place.

Q. How does he fit in with Rodney?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's been kind of a good tandem. Not just those two, but Abdul and Marcelias too. It's kind of been a really -- kind of the four-headed monster for us.

They've done a great job managing it. They're all very unselfish, all ready to go. They've had all been the feature guy at different times this year. They've been able to stay healthy, continue to push each other. So they've done a great job of handling it. They really have.

Q. How's Baker doing?

Q. What is the plan to get him ready for the next two days?
LINCOLN RILEY: Rest, hydrate, get some meds and try to get past it.

Q. Is it a voice thing with him more than anything else that you don't want him at these things?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't know that I'd get that specific. I'd like him to be here. Again, he's had a lot of media access in his time. He's been interviewed by I think every single person in the world over the past few months. So we'd certainly like him to be here, but it's just not the best for him right now.

Q. Was he ready to come down here at the last second?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, we made the decision at the end. We tried to give him every opportunity to feel good enough to come to it. But we had a conversation before we left, and he is not in a place to be ready to come to it yet.

Q. So far in your experience, can you give us some highlights from the Rose Bowl so far? What have you enjoyed about your experience?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, there's been a lot of highlights. Getting to take the team to Disney, and my family as well, too. It was really, really special. Just the venue. Just being here in Southern California, the weather, obviously, is off the charts.

I would say probably the best thing, though, because all bowls have events, this and that, it's just how well we've been treated by everybody here. The Rose Bowl staff, everybody that we've been in contact, everybody at our hotel has just been very, very welcoming to us.

Q. Would you mind holding the mic and looking into the camera: Anything you want to tell people back home in Norman? Any shoutouts or New Year's resolutions you would like to share back home?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I guess. Yeah, everybody, Coach Riley here at the Rose Bowl. Just want to let everybody back in Norman know that we're thinking about you here in sunny California, sunny, warm California.

Had a great week, and we're really looking forward to the game. Appreciate your support all year, and have a great New Year's.

Q. In terms of it being a traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 event, did you watch the Rose Bowl a lot growing up?

Q. What was your perception of the Rose Bowl?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, it just always was a great game. I mean, you always -- you can still hear Keith Jackson announcing the game. Live from Pasadena. It was always the game I probably enjoyed watching the most, honestly.

But, yeah, kind of growing up in Big 12 country, it always seemed a little far out there as far as having an opportunity to play in it. And you knew it wouldn't come up often.

So it was always one we hoped to have a chance to be a part of. When we found out this was the one, we were pretty excited.

Q. What was it like being here?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's great. I don't know that the first year at the helm really matters. I think I would love it if it was my last year too. So just trying to enjoy it and get our teams ready to go as much as possible.

Q. What's been your favorite part of the week so far?
LINCOLN RILEY: That would be hard to nail down. Everything has been great. The set-up has been great. Practices have been fun. Players have had a great attitude. Probably getting to just spend time with our players and see how much they're enjoying this experience.

Q. Have you ever bought roses for someone, and if so, when was the last time you bought them?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I have, and that would be my wife. I don't remember what the last occasion was, but, yeah, definitely.

Q. Has Kirby reminded you a couple times about how you guys (indiscernible) when he was the Alabama coordinator?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, I wasn't here. No, yeah, I wasn't here. I know they did a good job offensively in that game, but I was still at East Carolina then.

Q. Does is it say anything about the state of the game, or is it just a (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, no, I think it is. I think I would give credit to both schools for having -- I don't know what the right word is, the confidence or being willing to give young guys like us a chance.

Does it matter at the end of the day? I don't know. I think if your energy level is high, it doesn't matter if you're 34 or 64. If you can relate to players, it doesn't matter. I think you either get it done or you don't.

I think people are more willing now than ever to give young guys opportunities, so you're seeing more of that now than you did 15 years ago.

Q. The narrative was always out there about Big 12 versus SEC, smash-mouth football. Do you guys still enjoy that now?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, we don't pay attention to it much, no.

Q. I wanted to ask about Erick. What can you say about Erick?
LINCOLN RILEY: Erick's done a great job for us. He's a great story being a walk-on out of a junior college. Came here under scholarship. Yeah, it's a tough position. It's tough physically. That's a battle every single play. That guy is in the middle of it regardless of which way you run. He's always going to be an important factor.

Then just mentally what the guy has got to do. He kind of becomes the quarterback of the offensive line. So we're starting to rely on him a lot.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: I would just say for us being able to adjust as fast as we can. Being able to -- you've got to have somebody there that can control it, and he does a great job of it.

Q. What's it like to see him out here?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I guess he's feeling a little bit better.

Q. I was going to ask, how has he been on the field?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, he's just been sick, but he's battling through it, yeah.

Q. Is it just like a flu?
LINCOLN RILEY: I mean, he's just sick, yeah.

Q. I was just going to say what's it like to have him drawing such attention like that?
LINCOLN RILEY: At these events it's part of it. At home he's just another player.

Q. To what extent is the offense you guys run? I know it's different, but you come out of the Mike Leach trade, we all know about that. So what extent is this offense not dissimilar to what was run in 1989 or 1999 at Oklahoma?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it has evolved quite a bit. There's a lot more run game, a lot more play-action game. We've taken some of those concepts from the air raid, but we've really -- we're really a long ways from it, honestly, and from those roots.

But I think the mentality that came along with that offense is probably the biggest thing that we've carried through.

Q. Was there a point where (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, not really. I think I felt like that the first day that I had the job. Our players accepted it, the support with the administration, and everybody was great, the staff was great. So I don't think there was ever a moment that I didn't feel like that.

Q. How did you handle it specifically and your goals and what you've learned?
LINCOLN RILEY: I learned a lot the previous few years about how Bob handled me. You know, was there for a suggestion here and there, but never took away my confidence or kind of the feeling. He wanted me to do what I thought was best, and that's why he hired me. He always kind of gave me that leeway and latitude. It helped me a lot as a coordinator.

So I've tried to do the same thing with our guys defensively. They know what they're doing. They're really good coaches. If I ever see something or have a suggestion, of course I'm going to say it. But I want them to have confidence to do what they believe is best.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Not much less time offensively. Maybe a little bit. Maybe I've delegated a little bit more. But, no, I've just had to create more hours, honestly, more than anything.

Q. So what does that look like 3 a.m. to 2 a.m.?
LINCOLN RILEY: I get in earlier than I used to, for sure. It's good to kind of be there sometimes when nobody else is in there. I can get some things done. I get a lot of the head coaching-type stuff done then.

Q. What are you most concerned about Baker performing in this game, is it stamina, hydration?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't know that I'm concerned. He'll be ready to play. His fire burns pretty hot, as we all know, so I wouldn't say I have a concern.

Q. Were you guys planning on bringing him? I mean, he just showed up. I wasn't sure if it was planned.
LINCOLN RILEY: No, told him if he was well enough to do it; if he wasn't, don't. So I guess he is.

Q. You can alleviate the fears in Norman, Oklahoma?
LINCOLN RILEY: I think so. I think the world's not going to come to an end. He'll be ready to play, and we'll be fine.

Q. Even if he was somewhat below a hundred percent, he seems like a guy who could be out there and do whatever anyway.
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think so. And the fact that just his experience is going to, I think, be a big factor in this one. He's been through a lot of big games. He's been in a College Football Playoff game. He understands what it's going to take to win a big game like this.

Q. Having been around Baker for so long, how tough do you think it is for opposing teams to find a scout team quarterback in a couple of days?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's probably pretty tough. The guy does a lot. Brings a unique skill set to the position. So obviously has the ability to create too. So, yeah, there's not many like him, for sure.

Q. It's not something you can do in three or four days?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, that's always a challenge. It's a challenge on both sides of the ball. You just try to do the very best you can to expose guys to what people can do. But when you've got a great player, that's the hardest to replicate.

Q. You have a lot of walk-ons, transfers from Baker to Jeff Badet. Why do you think it's so easy for them?
LINCOLN RILEY: I think because guys understand here when they walk in the door that Oklahoma football is about winning. They understand that the best players are going to play, and if somebody can help us win, then they're going to get an opportunity.

It doesn't matter where you came from. It doesn't matter what you did last year or even last week for that matter. So the egos and all of that are put off to the side.

I think that's why you've seen the continued success of this program decades and decades. I think that's why young guys or new guys are able to fit in and have a role right off the top if they're the best players.

Q. What do you guys use (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, he gives us a ton of versatility. At first he's -- mentally the kid is off the charts. He can handle so much. Then also physically. He's able to do so many things. He blocks well, he catches well, he runs with the ball well. There is just very little this kid can't do.

When you've got guys like that, it makes you a little tougher to defend, and you try to take advantage of all of those skill sets.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, it depends on the game plan. But, I mean, there's very little that he can't do. As a coach you appreciate somebody that gives you that kind of flexibility.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Really tough, really tough. Because it's -- again, so much of it is mental. Are they capable of handling that much. For most guys just learning to play one position well is difficult. For him, you're really talking about playing three or four different positions, really, and being able to do them at a high level.

Q. He's listed as a fullback?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, I would say more of an H-back. There's just -- fullback I think of just kind of the bruiser that's going to line up in the I-formation and come downhill. This guy's got a little bit more versatility to his game.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: I knew he might, yeah.

Q. (Question off microphone.)

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: No. No, not really. Yeah, I've tried to remember which one it was. We had one early in the game. I think maybe the first drive of Ohio State I think we went for it. It was one that was going to be a really, really long field goal.

No, those are things that we went through as a staff and that I put a lot of time into thinking. So, you're not making big decisions without having a lot of thought ahead of time and some kind of a game plan that you're going to stick to.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Good. I think some of it is analytics and some of it is feel. Some of it's how good you feel your partner is, how good you feel your field goal kicker is. What is the match-up like offensively and defensively. A lot goes into it.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: I did one with the first penalty in the UTEP game. The first one when there was actually a decision to be made to accept or decline it. I remember I was standing there and everybody was looking at me. And I realized, yeah, I'm the one that has to decline this. So there was like a five-second like --

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, better fourth down in Columbus, yeah.

Q. (Indiscernible) how's your office since July? Is it filled up?
LINCOLN RILEY: We've got a little more hardware in there. We've had a couple good things here throughout the year, and hopefully add a couple more.

Q. It's more decorated?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, it's a little more spiced up than the last time you were in there. Yeah, it looks good.

Q. Being named head coach and chasing the national title, do you remember what that was like?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think just to understand that we were going to continue to maintain the standard here. That's always been the standard at Oklahoma is winning championships, winning conference championships, and having a chance to compete for National Championships and win those. I wanted them to understand that that standard wasn't going anywhere, and they believed it.

Q. Can you talk about (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, we talked about it some, just because if I'm not addressing it, they're hearing it on TV. It's all anybody talks about is the College Football Playoff it seems like from week two on.

So, yeah, we talked about it as far as how to handle it and the steps you've got to take if you want to reach that goal.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think so. The few times I've been around him we've hit it off, enjoyed visiting with him. Always admired him and the job he's done.

Yeah, I think our career paths in a lot of ways are very similar. And both of us still being pretty involved on our respective sides of the ball and getting a chance to take over two great programs. So, yeah, there's a lot of connections there.

Q. They came to visit you guys in 2016?
LINCOLN RILEY: They came to visit us this spring.

Q. What do you remember from that visit with their staff?
LINCOLN RILEY: That was good. Yeah, Chaney and those guys came over, Pittman, I think some of their off-the-field staff, I think.

Yeah, it was good. They were a good group to visit with. We kicked some ideas around, talked ball for a few hours. So, yeah, it was a fun visit. Hopefully we didn't give them anything good.

Q. Talk about that chess match. You're calling plays, he's calling plays. Do you get as excited as a player would be on the field to have that interaction?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I don't necessarily see it as anything like me versus him. I just see when you've got a group that you feel great about, it's fun to have great challenges. This is obviously going to be as good of a challenge as we've faced here in a long time. Yeah, to get to do it with this team in this venue with as much riding on it as there is, I don't know what more you could ask for.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, we liked him a lot. We thought he was a really good player. Came down to us and Georgia there at the end.

You know, we thought he was going to be, honestly, what he's become. We thought he was going to be a big play down the field receiver. Had a lot of ability, and we really liked the kid. Thought he was a really good kid.

So, yeah, we fought hard, but I think in the end he wanted to stay back East.

Q. You've talked a lot about the fact that he's still learning. Did you see that time?

Q. There was a lot of raw talent there?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, no question. He was raw. But a lot of guys his age in his situation are. But, no, you could see the ability, and you could see how much he was improving even in junior college.

Q. You've got a lot of guys on this team that walked on or were JUCO. Why do you think that is?
LINCOLN RILEY: I think first we've had an open mind enough to bring those guys in. Not everybody's going to be the five-star player. I think your team has to have a good mix. Having guys that want to be at OU. Having guys that are internally motivated at a high level is a big deal to us.

So, yeah, it's been a good mix of that, and something that our team has benefited from.

Q. Baker just said he literally watched you on TV at the beginning of this and decided to come. I mean, what does that say about him? He didn't have to be here.
LINCOLN RILEY: No, no, he didn't have to. But we're not trying to hide from anybody. He's not trying to hide from anybody. You know, the Rose Bowl has been good. They've understood all the events and all that that it was best for him to be back. So I think he wanted to throw everybody a bone.

Q. Yeah, that's basically it. Is your mindset these last three days he doesn't need to do media, he does need to practice, and that's not going to impact the game plan at all whether he talks?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, exactly, at the end of the day. And if he had been a guy that nobody had ever talked to, I would understand it. He's been interviewed by I think every single reporter on the face of the earth over the past six months. I mean, he's not answering anything that he hasn't answered a hundred times before.

Q. Was he a full go this week?
LINCOLN RILEY: Pretty close. We monitored some things to try not to overwork him, but he didn't miss anything major.

Q. Is silent snap an option right now?
LINCOLN RILEY: I wouldn't talk about cadence. Sorry.

Q. You don't want to talk about it?
LINCOLN RILEY: That's right.

Q. To go along with the question, do you like the fact that your quarterback is that type of guy? He's an in-your-face, not prim and proper, all these different type of things?
LINCOLN RILEY: I'm fine with it. It's not a requirement. You have to be able to lead at that position. You've got to be able to rally the guys.

But some people do it in different ways. I've seen guys that were as effective as Baker doing it, but not in such a brash, kind of flamboyant way like he does.

So I think at the end of the day you've just got to be yourself. If you're not yourself, then people see through it pretty quickly.

Q. He was there at Tech with Coach Leach when you were there. What did Coach Leach think at that time?
LINCOLN RILEY: It's hard to describe what Coach Leach would be thinking. I think only he can do that. I need a cup of coffee up here and I can tell you. No, he would have liked him. There is no doubt. He would have liked him. There would have been some pretty funny conversations between those two.

Q. Do you think Baker has a little Leach in him?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't know if anybody has a little Leach in them.

Q. What's been Bob's rollover the last couple of weeks?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I would say it's been like it's been all year. He's certainly been around, been around us. We want him around. Love having him around. He's been there to answer questions or to give advice. Certainly just been somebody that I can lean on and use specifically like I have the rest of the year.

Q. Do you lean on your staff from top down?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, we lean on all our staff. I value their opinions. A lot of these guys have been in big-time atmospheres, championship games, bowl games. We have a very experienced staff, so we meet often, and I certainly lean on all those guys.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: No, you can't. People have told me, and I've seen it now, you don't know what it's like until you actually sit in this chair. It's hard to describe. So guys that have been there, understand that, have certainly been helpful.

Q. How would you assess (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: If you want to see who has the best O-line in the country, look at the numbers. The numbers tell you. If you're moving the ball and you're able to do both, you're probably pretty good up front. We've done a decent job of it. So I don't know how you rank O-lines or how you do all that. It's probably the toughest position to quantify how good they are. But there's nobody better than ours.

Q. Have you given Coach Stoops a hard time for speaking to (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: No, we laughed about it. He spoke, and obviously we said earlier those guys came out to us. No, I just told him -- I can't remember. We had a laugh about it once they announced the pairings. So he told me that he didn't give them anything good, though, so we were all set.

Q. Are you a believer in right place right time? It's almost like you and Baker converged.
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, yeah, I am. I am. We all work hard and put a lot into this. But at the same time, I think he and I and really everybody in this program realize how fortunate we are that we kind of all ended up here together and have a chance to do something. We've already done a lot that's very special and will have a chance to do even more.

Q. It's almost like you guys helped each other and raised up together?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, that's how this game works. Nobody does it by themselves. We've helped each other. The team has been obviously big behind that. It's been a situation that's worked from all the different angles.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Tyreece Lott has really done a nice job. Offensively Charleston Rambo has really had a nice opportunity. A.D. Miller who we red-shirted. Austin Kendall has done a nice job. That young offensive line has had a chance to be -- we've got some young guys there, Tyrese Robinson and Adrian Ealy, Marquis Hayes, those guys have a chance to be pretty good as well.

It's been a good group. Isaiah Thomas has done some good things on the defensive side. Haven't had quite as many defensively. We've been a little more thin on that side of the ball. We've had good prep work, and that's key this time of the year.

Q. How do you feel about your assistant coaches and their jobs?
LINCOLN RILEY: Sure, sure. That's something we openly discuss. And when you've had the success we've had here, that's going to be part of it.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, I think so. Absolutely. I think we've got a lot of guys on our staff that could be, and will be in the future. I want them to be. I said I was lucky to work for guys that helped me learn and helped me grow and helped prepare me. Hopefully I can do a little bit of the same for these guys.

Q. (Indiscernible). What do those mean to you?
LINCOLN RILEY: Yeah, I think it's the teams. It's just kind of the personality that we've taken on. Our team really that is us. That is us. That's the way that we approach every single day. So it's real.

Q. Your offensive line, a lot of those guys and maturity (indiscernible)?
LINCOLN RILEY: I don't think it's a surprise. A lot of times when you go through this, even though they're big bowl games that are not a part of the playoffs, it's just a lot different. There is a lot of attention on it, and you have to be ready to handle all that.

I think our guys are not surprised. A little bit, I think the mindset of the team is good going into this one right now.

Q. Your team was pretty young.
LINCOLN RILEY: It was, yeah. I think so. Again, I feel like we're settled very much as a team. We knew what we were getting ourselves into here, and have a good idea of the way we want to handle it all.

Q. How does playing in the Rose Bowl help with recruiting in California?
LINCOLN RILEY: Oh, it's very special to these guys. A lot of them came to Oklahoma knowing that they might not ever play a game on the West Coast. Although we do have UCLA back out here in a couple of years, but -- or would not get to very often.

But for them to come back here and their families to be able to drive to Pasadena, do it at the Rose Bowl, the national semifinal, we've got a group of guys that are really excited about it.

Certainly it helps in California. We've had a great run of California players that have come to Oklahoma and done very, very well. You could feel -- when we were out here recruiting a few weeks ago, you could feel the energy around knowing we were coming back out here.

So it's great. We've got a national brand, and this does nothing but enhance it.

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