Lincoln Riley actually did Oklahoma one big favor with his unceremonious exit

Lincoln Riley leaving for USC made it easier for wide receiver Marvin Mims to stay at Oklahoma.

One unintended consequence of Lincoln Riley bolting for USC was it inadvertently provided the necessary change Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims was seeking out.

After a freshman All-American season in 2020, Mims saw his number of targets and production drop precipitously last fall.

“There wasn’t as many targets as I was looking for, nowhere near it,” said Mims to 247Sports. “It was kind of a letdown, but at the end of the day I had to just keep battling through it. There were times where I was really unhappy about it with both the receiver coach and the offensive coordinator, but it was what it was.”

This led to him being unhappy with the program. It probably would have led to him transferring from Oklahoma had Riley not left Norman for USC.

“I just really wasn’t happy with it. I just wanted a change,” said Mims.

With defensive-minded Brent Venables taking over from Riley and him hiring former Ole Miss/UCF offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, this provided the required change for Mims to stay put at Oklahoma. It was an opportunity for a terrific talent like Mims to reset a bit. He gets to play for an on-the-rise offensive coordinator in Lebby and a promising first-time head coach in Venables.

Lebby’s passing attack has been prolific, which made it easier for former Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel to transfer to Oklahoma after missing most of last season in Orlando due to injury. Gabriel’s transfer, as well as Mims’ decision to remain at Oklahoma, is a big reason why the Sooners can realistically compete for a Big 12 conference title in Venables’ first year at the helm.

Oklahoma’s time in the Big 12 may be coming to an end, but Mims is just getting started at OU.

Marvin Mims would have transferred from Oklahoma had Lincoln Riley stayed

For as unceremonious of an exit it was for Riley, Oklahoma fans need to put the previous era firmly in the rearview mirror to fully embrace the exciting times ahead. While making the leap from the Big 12 to the SEC would be difficult for most programs, keep in mind that Lebby had been at Ole Miss for two years and Venables recruited at an SEC level while running the Clemson defense.

Though Oklahoma will lose its status as the preeminent program in its conference once it joins the SEC, the Sooners should be in a group of a handful of teams like Auburn, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M who can realistically compete for conference championships annually without necessarily being on Alabama or Georgia’s level. Mims will be in the NFL by then, but Oklahoma should be fine.

What will inevitably serve the Sooners going forward is to never back down from a challenge. If Oklahoma fans want to continue to believe Riley took the easy way out at USC, they can definitely do that. However, they need to get fully behind one of Bob Stoops’ best proteges in Venables and see if he can make Oklahoma more than merely a one-and-done College Football Playoff program.

If Mims can play at an All-Big 12 level, he can get back to AT&T Stadium to stay undefeated there.

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