Lincoln Riley has become another example of someone in sports who seemingly disappears, leaving behind a wake of destruction in his dust. And as Tennessee fans — cough, Lane Kiffin, cough — I am sure you know all about the instant-break-up-and-go-to-USC pipeline.
For those of you that don’t know, Lincoln Riley was the phenomenal head football coach for the Oklahoma Sooners. Within the past month, he repeatedly shot down rumors of him leaving the Sooners, asserting that he was there to stay. This week, he went back on his word and signed on to be the next coach of the University of Southern California (USC).
Critics of Riley will assert that he deserted his team, his fans and his loyal supporters in Oklahoma. Those critics will point to the dozens of other coaches and players that have done similar things. Whether it is players demanding trades, students entering the transfer portal or superstars sitting out their final bowl game, people are putting their own interests first.
This, for some reason, is viewed as a bad thing. Well actually, I know the reason, and you do too. People love to say that once you commit to something, you should stick to it. “You have to see it through,” they might say. “You can’t let down those around you,” they claim.
This is absolute bogus. For far too long, people have viewed perseverance as the holy grail of character traits. Tell your job interviewer that secret word and they will lose their mind. Unfortunately, it is now the most overrated of personality buzzwords.
There is a difference between perseverance and being overly stubborn. The key difference? Continuing an action is only persevering if you actually should be continuing it. If I continue to ram my head against a brick wall to bring it down, I am not “persevering.” I am being an idiot.
Lincoln Riley left his team in the middle of a season, in the midst of a ton of turnover at Oklahoma. Nevertheless, it was probably the right choice. He will be receiving a full buyout, a lucrative contract, private jet access, an (objectively) better place to live, all while being able to compete in a much easier conference with a much larger natural talent advantage.
Riley will now be a short car ride away from some of the most talented potential players in the nation, instead of trying to convince 17 year olds to come out to Norman, Oklahoma. Do you know what is easier than that? Trying to convince a 17 year old to come to Los Angeles or quite literally anywhere else.
Life is short, and it is far too short for us to waste our time not living our best lives all for the sake of “professionalism” or “perseverance.” Riley did the absolute best move for him, and it is time that we start to adopt that mindset as well.
Max Thompson is a junior at UT this year majoring in marketing, business analytics and entrepreneurship. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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