There were too many openings at big colleges for a notable school or two not to be on the losing side even after being on the winning side for a long time. Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to become the head coach at USC, which was a bigger fish than the SEC, which he left after 55 wins.
The hire of a coach that a lot of NFL teams wanted is huge for USC, they can now parade around their purebred for a fan base only ever content with Best in Show. No one could take advantage of the College Football Playoff resources that the Pac-12 was begging for. That will probably change as soon as the transfer portal allows.
What will Oklahoma do now? Decry Riley for treason. They need a coach from a pool of candidates that are already overfished to get them to play on the Freshman difficulty setting and then the All-Madden setting.
Notre Dame is looking for a coach, along with Florida, Miami and Florida State, because USC and LSU got their guys. Iowa State's Matt Campbell and Dave Aranda are rumored to be in the mix, just like every other opening that has come up. It will be difficult for Sooner fans and boosters to get on board if their new coach isn't as splashy as the programs they're on par with.
The standard for the next coach will be measured by how many times Riley has won the Heisman and how many times he has made the playoffs. Even if they were able to convince Kliff to leave the NFL and take the job at Texas Tech, he was already a bootleg Lincoln Riley.
Recruits have already started decommitting, and sentences like "Oklahoma desperately needs to make a home run hire" are so obvious they don't need to be written. The SEC is more difficult than the Big 12.
Imagine being in that meeting. We are moving to the best conference in college football and still expect to win the Heismans, the conference and make the College Football Playoff. Where do you see yourself in five years? Riley was trying to figure out how to fit in a round of golf between game planning for Oregon State. I would have picked SoCal over the SEC.
Oklahoma will have to figure out how to maintain its status before it gets to a conference that no longer cares about who they are. Ask Nebraska how much of a carry the decades of dominance have over Kansas, Iowa State and the like. When you realign, the only welcoming people are the ones running the conference account.
There was a contingency plan in place in case Riley left. Good luck if there isn't, and these candidates are in the running to take over a powerhouse.
The approach to hiring coaches in Texas has worked well. After the burden of expectations crushed them, Charlie Strong, Tom Herman and Steve Sarkisian became proven disappointments. I know that he is still employed, but I am not sure if he will stay that way.
I like to look for unconventional ways for teams to succeed despite bad coaching, which I am pretty sure is impossible, but here's my advice for Texas: Go independent after your Big 12 contract is up. Get ahead of the curve because who knows what will happen after the next money grab. You already have your own TV network that is looking for a reason not to go the way of the ESPN Phone. If you get back to a bowl game, you could tailor your schedule to play all of your rivals or none of them.
The alpha male complex dictates as much as Riley would say he left a program to avoid adding another degree of difficulty to a goal that he hasn't accomplished yet. I will say it, though. USC offered Riley an out in a field of work he knows well, and he took it.
Who could be responsible for him? I would rather have fans chanting "U-S-C!" than foes yelling "S-E-C!"