• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

How did recruiting affect Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley’s decisions to leave? | College Football Enquirer

In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Brian Kelly
    Brian Kelly
    American college football player and coach
  • Lincoln Riley
    Lincoln Riley
    American football player and coach

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the departures of Brian Kelly from Notre Dame and Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma, and explain how recruiting weighed into their moves to LSU and USC.

Video Transcript

DAN WETZEL: The interesting thing with Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly, OK-- two very different people, and Oklahoma and Notre Dame, two very different programs. Those two to me, the last few years, have been the most fascinating programs to watch in recruiting. Not the best. It's not like-- Georgia's turned it on like crazy, right, and that's why Georgia is number one.

But Oklahoma got to three straight playoffs. And, honestly, they should have beat-- you know, they could have beat Georgia with Baker Mayfield, and they would have had a really good shot against Alabama, right? Then Oklahoma gets crushed two straight years in the playoff.

Notre Dame's been to the BCS title game and then two playoffs. They got-- I mean, they're not-- they can't compete. In the last couple years, Riley and Kelly have upgraded recruiting in a significant factor even for two schools that always got good players. They stopped with the we're good enough having the eighth-best recruiting class. And Brian Kelly said we can't beat Alabama on the field until we beat them for kids they really want and the same thing with Oklahoma.

And so if you-- Lincoln Riley starts getting Malachi Nelson, and he's got all these five stars from Florida and California. He's bringing them in because if you look at Oklahoma-- I looked this up today on a column or I don't know when I wrote this column now. It's too many columns. Oklahoma has produced one Rivals five-star player since 2007 when Gerald McCoy came out.

PAT FORDE: Wow.

DAN WETZEL: One.

PAT FORDE: That's it?

DAN WETZEL: Daxton Hill who's at Michigan, one five star. OK, the other states in the SEC, every one of them has produced a ton. Oklahoma only has 4 million-- less than 4 million people.

PAT FORDE: I thought it was bigger.

DAN WETZEL: South Carolina is bigger than that, a million more, and they produce tons of five stars, let alone Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, [INAUDIBLE]. So Oklahoma is always fighting on the other turf.

And so these two had actually upgraded it, and you could see it as like, OK, we have to go into the lines. We have to fight and win and get the best quarterback. We have to get the best lineman. We have to get this, this, this, this.

And even as they're doing it, in the last 24 hours both of them said can't do it. Can't do it.

PAT FORDE: Yeah. No, it does show you the very narrow point at the top of the pyramid. There ain't many schools that can stand at the very top. And so if you get a chance to go to one of them that theoretically can get you there-- when you can get to the second or third highest step and then get your face kicked in, OK. Eventually you want to try something different, and that's apparently what they both decided.

They just-- you know, the amazing thing to me-- like, I mean, they both still just shocked me, but Riley at age 38 and having been at Oklahoma for, what, like five years, less entrenched than Brian Kelly, age 60, having been at Notre Dame more than a decade.

Now, Kelly may have just been sitting there saying, look, I got one move left in me, and this is it, and I'll see how it goes. And might be looking-- he's 60. Nick Saban is 70. He's figuring I can outlast Saban. If Saban's in for 5, I can be in for 10, and maybe I'm ready to fill that vacuum there. But you still also have Georgia and Kirby Smart and everybody else in that league.

DAN WETZEL: Everyone else coming. But yeah, I think he's looking and saying if Coach O and Les Miles can do it--

PAT FORDE: Yeah.

DAN WETZEL: --I can do it. They can-- you know, I can get those players.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting