Lincoln Riley wins Broyles Award: 'I was lucky to have great coaches'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday December 08, 2015

Oklahoma offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Lincoln Riley has won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

Riley was awarded on Tuesday in Little Rock in what was the closest vote in the award’s 20-year history. One vote was the difference between first and second place.

It’s Riley’s first year in Norman, but he took the Sooners’ offense to No. 3 in scoring at 45.8 points per game en route to a Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff appearance.

“It’s been just a dream,” Riley said of working at OU. “I can’t imagine why I’m the one who got that opportunity. I didn’t feel like I deserved it when I got it. I still really don’t, now. But it’s been an incredible honor and an incredible year.”

Riley thanked a few specific coaches in his speech. He’s only 32 years old, but has been coaching since 2003. After walking on at Texas Tech, Mike Leach let him be a student assistant and eventually a full-time assistant.

Mike gave me my first shot, hired me at Texas Tech when I was 23, believed in me when a lot of people told him he shouldn’t,” Riley said. “We all have that coach, that person that gave us that first break. He was that for me, and I’ll never forget him for that.”

Riley spent the previous five years at East Carolina in his first offensive coordinator role, following Ruffin McNeill from Texas Tech. McNeill was dismissed as head coach last week, but Riley knows his impact.

“(McNeill) really taught me how to treat people and treat players,” Riley said. “His love and caring for those players is something I’ve really taken.”

Riley also said his parents and high school coaches had the great influence on him and are the reason he got into coaching.

“Most of us got into this profession because we had a positive experience in high school,” Riley said. “For a young man, other than your parents, I don’t know if there’s a person in such an important part of your life with more impact than your high school coaches. I was lucky enough to have great coaches and great experiences, and I want to thank them.

“All the high school coaches out there who affect these guys more than they know. Being on the other side now, it’s hard to realize my guys might look at me like I looked at my coaches in high school or college. It’s an important responsibility that I take very seriously.”

Other finalists included former Alabama defensive coordinator / linebackers coach Kirby Smart, Clemson defensive coordinator / linebackers coach Brent Venables, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and Baylor offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Kendal Briles.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to