John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Lincoln Riley is now the $6 million man; Alex Grinch becomes highest-paid assistant in OU history

John E. Hoover: Lincoln Riley is now the $6 million man; Alex Grinch becomes highest-paid assistant in OU history

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley at Big 12 Media Days on Monday, July 16, 2018 in Frisco, Texas. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

After two years in the College Football Playoff, two Big 12 Conference championships and two Heisman winners in his two seasons as head football coach at Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley figured to get rewarded for his success.

That reward came Wednesday, when OU made Riley the eighth-highest paid college football coach in the country.

Per terms of his new 5-year, $32.5 million deal, Riley will make $6 million in 2019, which ranks one spot ahead of Texas’ Tom Herman ($5.5 million).

Riley’s scheduled increases — which includes an annual bump of $150,000 plus a one-time, $1 million on April 1, 2021 — allows him to average $6.9 million a year over the life of the contract, which was extended through Jan. 31, 2024. Riley is scheduled to make $6.15 million in 2020, $7.3 million in 2021, $7.45 million in 2022 and $7.6 million in 2023.

His base salary remains at $325,000.

Riley’s annual stay benefit climbed from $500,000 to $700,000, but interestingly, his annual scheduled raise dropped from $200,000 to $150,000. His supplemental retirement income doubled from $500,000 to $1 million. His maximum incentive bonuses got a bump as well, from $500,000 to $750,000.

Also announced at Wednesday’s regents meeting, new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch became the highest-paid assistant coach in OU history at $1.4 million a year. He received a three-year contract that includes a $100,000 annual stay bonus.

Contract figures for new defensive assistants Roy Manning and Brian Odom also were announced. Manning gets $425,000 a year on a deal that runs through 2021, while Odom gets $375,000 a year on a deal that runs through 2020.

Other OU assistants also got raises. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh went from $625,000 to $750,000, inside receivers coach an recruiting coordinator Cale Gundy went from $500,000 to $535,000, outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill went from $570,000 to $575,000,  tight ends coach Shane Beamer went from $435,000 to $470,000, special teams coach and running backs coach Jay Boulware went from $435,000 to $470,000, defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux went from $320,000 to $375,000, and wide receivers coach Dennis Simmons went from $400,000 to $460,000. Strength coach Bennie Wylie went from $350,000 to $380,000.

Riley made $285,000 in 2014, during his fifth and final season as offensive coordinator at East Carolina. He was hired at OU at $500,000 a year, got a pay raise after one year to $900,000, then got another pay raise to $1.3 million before he was named Bob Stoops’ successor in June 2017.

Riley got $3.1 million his first year as head coach and received a bump to $4.8 million last year.


Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at


John Hoover

John Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "The Franchise Drive" on The Franchise Tulsa (weeknights 6-8, fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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