Lincoln Riley Set To Become USC’s Newest Head Coach, Dodging OU’s Invite To The SEC

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Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley is heading to Southern California to become the newest coach for the USC Trojans, per ESPN‘s sources.

A name reportedly vetted for the Dallas Cowboys’ head coaching gig at one point and recently seen as a prime pick for the LSU gig post-Ed Orgeron, Riley’s pick to give up all options in favor USC came as a bit of a shock. Riley’s accrued success for a premier football program in OU gave him quite the cachet to pick whichever head coaching vacancy he desired.

Since picking up the mantle left by Bob Stoops in 2017, Riley helped the Sooners reach the College Football Playoff four times and leaves Norman with an overall record of 55-10.

The coach responded to rumors connecting him to the LSU role on Saturday and entirely shut down the possibility.

“Looks like somebody is scared of competing in the SEC,” said OutKick founder Clay Travis following the USC announcement.

Riley’s move to USC is, of course, a win for parity. While the sexy pick of LSU had fans salivating at the prospects of an offense powered by Lincoln’s knack for play calling, his move to So Cal grants Pac-12 football a shot at relevance, even as the SEC anticipates the inclusion of Texas and Oklahoma in the coming years. 

Stay tuned with OutKick as the newly announced coaching hire develops in the coming week.

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila


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  1. Scared of the SEC? I’m not sure scared is the word, but certainly a much easier road to the CFP. I think that was SC’s major selling point. The PAC-12 has sucked for several years now without any marquee coaches (other than possibly Cristobal). This is huge for us but things won’t get completely turned around next year IMO.. There is a lot to fix, but man, what a start!

  2. I get the move. He can win in the PAC 12 with all the resources at USC. USC can be back challenging for conference titles out there in a year or two, because he can walk out his back door and recruit around LA. Meanwhile, OU is going to be trying to survive week to week in that murderous SEC west. Good time to go.

  3. Dumb comment by Clay. USC is one of a handful of premier jobs in CFB. Yes, times have changed and SC has been wandering the wilderness since Pete Carroll left but no reason why the right coach cannot turn it around.

  4. Smart move. He`ll start getting the 5 star QB`s. Be able to get whoever he wants on the left coast and bring a big name back to prominence. College football is always a little better when a blue blood like USC is going good. Plus, a good time to leave OK before the beat down comes in the SEC.

    • As a USC fan I’m beside myself in joy. It’s been a while since Trojan fans can celebrate something, like Sam Darnold, a lone bright spot after Pete Carroll left. That said I agree with your points here, including Riley making a strategic move to the Pac12. He should find the waters here much less choppy than the SEC. The hope is his Big 12 run will look similar in the Pac12.

  5. With the level of talent in California he will do very well. Will be in the CFP almost every year. I’ve always hated SC because they never have to compete against anyone. The PAC 12 has always sucked which made it easy for SC to always be in the the national championship hunt. They’ll be getting back to that with Riley. Don’t blame him…trying to compete in the SEC is a minefield. Much, much easier in the PAC 12.

  6. A solid “makes total sense” career move for Lincoln Riley … But …

    For a kid from MuleShoe TX whose previous residences have been Lubbock TX, Greenville NC and Norman OK … “Living in LA” might not be the WOW… HOW COOL Experience that some might imagine. “Climate” IS a factor in enjoying ones’ daily life but its not Everything.

    When one makes $8-10M/year one can live quite comfortably and securely in “most places” … except LA and NYC where that is almost “middle class” when it comes to affordable real estate. Assuming Mrs Riley has a similar background … will she enjoy that world? … Lets see what the next 6-8 years bring for The Rileys ????

  7. I’m an OU fan so my response may be a bit biased. I am thrilled that Riley has gone to USC. People who say he is one of the top innovative offensive minds in CFB aren’t paying attention. Mediocre DCs in the Big 12 have shown the path to beating his offense and he knew the far superior DCs in the SEC would shut him down, so he makes a move to the PAC 12, where similar to the Big 12, defense is optional. No surprise. A couple of things piss me off about his move. 1) Baylor week he’s out interviewing and we underperform. 2) The money OU ponied up to recruit the guys that are now following him to USC should be considered and paid back to the university by Riley or USC.

    I hope we go out and get a good Head coach vs. an “innovative” mind. Joe Brady makes sense in an offensive system. Mark Stoops makes sense as a Head Coach. Boomer Sooner!

  8. Joe Brady is my pick for head coach as long as he can make the right hires for the coaching staff. Matt Ruhle would also be a great get for OU. He has experience and turned around a struggling Baylor program in three years.

    • Joe Brady would be an excellent choice…as long as the stories I’ve read about his disdain for recruiting are not true. A couple of other candidates who come to mind, who may not necessarily be in the spot light: Gene Chizick (was 3-0 in bowl games and won a Natty in his second year at Auburn). He’s still young and while our fan base is delusional, we’re not nearly as bad as the Auburn faithful. He knows how to win in the SEC, recruit in the SEC and with OU’s imminent move to the SEC, this hire makes a lot of sense to me. Bill Snyder (Just kidding-He’s 200 years old!). With Caleb Williams likely following LR to LA, we may need to tap into the portal for next years bridge QB so an offensive minded coach may not be required.

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