As Texas and Oklahoma each celebrated their inclusion in the SEC, former OU coach Lincoln Riley might’ve had a different reaction …
Riley’s offseason departure from Norman, coming off a much-anticipated agreement for Oklahoma to join the SEC in 2025, prompted talks on whether the coaching protégé dodged college football’s stiffest conference by moving to USC / Pac-12.
“I heard the whole SEC narrative,” Riley said in an interview with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, denying any apprehension over the eventual exodus out of the Big 12 for Oklahoma.
Riley chalked the move to forgo the SEC and head to LA to a strong offer by the Trojans.
“To me, the SEC has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the program that you’re at and the position you think you can get to.”
He admitted that his personnel back in OU wasn’t capable of getting the job done.
“I’ve walked into four playoffs, and I’ve never had better than maybe the third-best roster [of the four semifinal teams],” Riley admitted.
“Every other year, we were four of four. We had really good rosters, but they weren’t the same. … I can’t imagine that there could be a setting that we could build a better roster than we can here.”
After also facing rumors of a potential move to the NFL (Dallas Cowboys), Riley’s pivot to join SC was, holistically, the easiest path forward for the coach.
But Riley remains destined to revive the USC Trojans back to a primetime college football brand.
With a fast start to recruiting and a powerhouse program to steer, Riley’s hold on the Pac-12 seems like a safer bet than dethroning Alabama, Georgia or any of the high-caliber programs in the SEC.
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Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela