No. 4 Oklahoma football suddenly canceled all media availability prior to its Saturday matchup against TCU, according to KOCO's Carson Cunningham, a day after the OU Daily student newspaper posted a report featuring insight on the open quarterback battle from practice.
OU Daily reporters Mason Young and Austin Curtwright wrote Tuesdaay that freshman Caleb Williams took the majority of first-team reps over incumbent starter Spencer Rattler. The newspaper reportedly gained access to this information by viewing workouts from a public building on campus that overlooks the team's practice field.
The quarterback battle has been one of the biggest stories in college football since Williams, a five-star from the Class of 2021, led the Sooners on a 21-point comeback to beat Texas 55-48 in the Red River Showdown. Rattler was benched after his second turnover in the first half and coach Lincoln Riley has declined to name a starter for the game on Saturday.
Neither Rattler nor Williams were made available for interviews after the emotional win, which marked the biggest come-from-behind victory in the rivalry's history. ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe tweeted that Riley denied her the opportunity to interview Williams on the postgame broadcast.
The tweet, which was later deleted, read: "Dear viewers, please know I am always working for you. I asked to interview [Caleb Williams] postgame and Lincoln Riley said no. That kid deserved this stage and this opportunity. I actually apologized to Caleb who expected to be interviewed."
Like coaches across the sport, Riley has a history of paranoia around outsiders viewing practice. In 2020, the University of Oklahoma applied an "opaque film" on 54 dorm room windows that could conceivably see the Oklahoma practice field. The move came as many classes at Oklahoma moved online due to the pandemic.
"While I don't think very many people would intentionally expose our student-athletes to a competitive disadvantage, it would only take one instance to create an unfavorable situation," Riley wrote in a letter to students affected by the blurring at the time.
Riley has been reluctant to switch quarterbacks since arriving in Norman. Outside of benching Heisman winners Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield for a handful of drives to start as punishments, Riley has never made a quarterback change during the season. However, he benched Rattler in favor of Tanner Mordecai – who has since transferred to SMU – in the middle of Oklahoma's 2020 win in the Red River Showdown.
No. 4 Oklahoma faces off against TCU at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners hope to win its eighth straight matchup against the Horned Frogs and their notoriously secretive coach Gary Patterson.