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Is Oklahoma Assistant Roy Manning Recruiting For The Sooners Or Lincoln Riley?

Lincoln Riley's abrupt move to USC from Oklahoma came with serious recruiting ramifications. At least six top 2022 and 2023 recruits have either flipped to USC or simply backed away from Oklahoma. Given Riley's success in convincing athletes from southern California to move to Oklahoma, it makes sense that he would have an easier time convincing them to stay home. Recruiting is a staff-wide process, and Riley is also bringing several key assistants with him to L.A., so that he can keep many existing relationships with recruits intact. However, one of these assistants, OU cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, may have failed to take the crucial first step of ending his job at Oklahoma before he began his job at USC.

Manning is still on Oklahoma's payroll. As of now he's listed in the Sooners' staff directory, unlike former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch or wide receivers coach Dennis Simmons, both of whom were part of the first group to travel from Norman to Los Angeles. The number of departing OU staffers won't be clear until after the team's season ends, but according to a since-deleted tweet from Community Christian College's (Calif.) offensive coordinator, Manning will be one of them. When asked by email whether Manning was currently employed by the Trojans, USC sports information director Tim Tessalone said, "We have not announced that, no." When I asked if he done any official recruiting work on behalf of Lincoln Riley, Tessalone said, "Sorry, we never discuss recruiting."

Manning has been visiting recruits during the first three days of the NCAA's contact period with Sooners interim coach Bob Stoops. Three-star recruits Xavion Brice and Robert Jennings thanked a group of Oklahoma coaches, including Manning, for visiting them earlier this week. Five-star defensive back Domani Jackson told 247 Sports on Monday that he'd been in regular contact with Manning, though he said that in the context of narrowing his choices to Alabama or USC, whose representatives he shouted out:

“[Riley] said he wants send in coach (Alex) Grinch (DC) first and then he’ll come in later. I’ve heard from coach Grinch too and also Roy Manning, who was the DB coach at OU. I’ve been texting back and forth with coach Manning and looking forward to meeting those guys in person.”

247 Sports

College football recruiting is inherently a slimy practice that hinges on getting high schoolers to agree to play football for no money (officially, anyway). Even so, it would be exceptionally slimy—as well as an NCAA compliance violation—for Manning to recruit for one school while on the payroll of another. Although USC is choosing not to explain what happened here, the OU Compliance Department seems to be aware:

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