Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley: Must be patient with bringing football players back to campus

Lincoln Riley outlines difficulty of bringing athletes back to campus (1:57)

Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley explains why student athletes shouldn't return to campus too early, saying there's too much unknown about COVID-19. (1:57)

Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley said Thursday that any talk of bringing players back to campus in a matter of weeks is too soon.

"All the talk about these schools wanting to bring players back on June 1 is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard," Riley said in a Zoom chat with reporters. "We've got to be patient. We have one good shot at it."

The Big 12 conference hasn't officially stated a potential date to reopen facilities, but the SEC will vote on May 22 on whether to allow schools to reopen facilities for voluntary workouts as soon as that date. Riley said that in his opinion there's too much at stake to risk such a quick return and jeopardize the season even further.

"It would be completely irresponsible to bring these guys in too early," he said. "We need to bring these guys in as late as we can. Every day they come in could be a day we could've gotten better, learned more about the virus, the [personal protection equipment] gets better, a day closer to a vaccine, the testing capabilities get better. It's just not worth it."

He said he understands that the sport is accustomed to strict dates and structure, but that there is still too much unpredictability for any push, saying he was entrusted with his players' health.

"It's our job as football coaches that we've got to look way, way beyond what's best for our own team. For a lot of coaches, that's hard," he said. "We're wired to do everything we can to help our teams win. This is totally different.

"I do believe if we do it right and don't get ahead of ourselves, I have a high, high confidence we'll be able to play football this year."

Riley also said that sophomore receiver Jadon Haselwood, who was a top-10 national recruit in the 2019 class, suffered a "freak accident" at home and would miss the early part of the season." Jaden had a lower leg injury that we're dealing with right now," Riley said, noting that it was "non-football, non-workout related."