BEREA — The connection is obvious.
The interest would be natural.
Any list of potential candidates to succeed Hue Jackson as Browns coach next season will include Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.
The link is rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the draft in April. He won the Heisman Trophy last year under Riley, an up-and-comer with a creative offensive mind.
Riley was asked about his interest in the NFL on Monday after Jackson was fired earlier in the day after going 3-36-1 with Cleveland.
“Knew that was coming,” Riley, who’s never worked in the NFL, said of the question. “No. Not right now. You sit here and answer these questions and I always want to be truthful. The truth is for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here. I love college football.
“I certainly don’t have that itch right now. I don’t know that I ever will. But I’m never going to be a guy that’s going to stand up here and say ‘no way, no how will any of these things ever happen.’ I don’t know that. I know right now I could care less about the NFL. We’re trying to win this game and trying to make a run that we all think we have in us right now.”
— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) October 29, 2018
The Sooners (7-1) are ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll. They lost to Georgia in overtime in the national semifinals last year, Riley’s first as a head coach.
Riley, 35, took over in June 2017 after the retirement of Bob Stoops. He’s 19-3 in less than two years in charge.
Riley was Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015 and ’16, mentoring Mayfield, who completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 119 touchdowns and 12,292 yards.
Before Oklahoma, Riley spent five years as coordinator and quarterbacks coach at East Carolina and seven years as an assistant at Texas Tech, his alma mater.