Why Riley Is Right for USC

Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley just did to Oklahoma what Oklahoma did to the Big 12. Riley assessed the landscape of what a future move to the SEC could mean for himself, his family, and his coaching career and he wanted no parts of an Oklahoma matriculation to the SEC. Don’t misunderstand me to mean that Lincoln Riley is scared of the future prospect of recruiting and coaching in the SEC. That’s not what I mean at all. Riley is an alpha male and is not scared of coaching in any tough environment. It’s quite the converse for a competitor like him; his personality type dictates that he accepts the challenge. Riley would coach on Mars against the Monstars if he had to in order to secure a win. He welcomes the pressure and formidable task of building the Trojans back up to where they were in the days of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Pete Carroll. I sincerely believe Lincoln Riley’s choice to move to Los Angeles and take on the challenge of restoring the University of Southern California to their rightful place as a national powerhouse of college football was a matter of principle over policy.

College football was literally on the one-inch line of getting a deal signed to finally get the expanded college football playoff format that we have all dreamed about for generations. Then Texas and Oklahoma shocked the world by announcing they were leaving the Big 12 and moving to the SEC. Wow! The rich got richer and the Big 12 had to scramble by looting other lesser conferences for their members. The other dominoes followed suit. Uncertainty kills reformative deals, and the expanded college football playoff deal was dead on arrival at that moment.

I wholeheartedly believe that once Oklahoma decided to move to the SEC, all bets were off. A lot of people had to recalibrate how they think and reformulate their 5 year and 10 year plans, including Lincoln Riley. It was an Earth moving announcement when Oklahoma made it. The Sooner suits and higher ups had to know that a move like that would have a ripple effect and that some things may happen that would be outside of their control that they would be unhappy about. You don’t make a major move like that and not expect a clapback or some blow back. Riley’s decision to become the head football coach at SC is one of those ripple effects from my vantage point. This is high stakes big time college football level chess moves happening before our very eyes.

Lincoln Riley is a Texas guy through and through. Born and raised in Texas, all he knows is Big 12 football. What if he expressed his objections to the Oklahoma brass about their plan to move to the SEC and they were ignored? Reports indicate that he did. As a Texas Tech alumnus, Riley had to personally know how Oklahoma and Texas leaving would hurt all of the down line big 12 schools, including his alma mater. I don’t think he was happy with the decision, and it may not be because he is scared to recruit and coach in the SEC. Riley is an alpha guy. I don’t see him being afraid of that challenge. I sincerely believe that as a matter of principle he did not want Oklahoma to leave the Big 12. However, that’s what the institution decided to do. Then USC and the Pac 12 came calling. The opportunity that coaching in Southern California presented was too good to pass up.

When you consider taking a job at prestigious institution like USC you must view the program as they were and what they could be again when in the hands of a competent captain. USC is a sleeping giant eagerly waiting for its coach charming to come along and violently shake it awake. The resources and support are there. The talent is there. Southern California rivals South Florida in terms of recruiting and producing NFL talent. In Los Angeles just like in Miami, you wake up, fall out of bed, and bump into future NFL hall of famers all over the place. All it takes is a competent recruiter and some good assistant coaches to coach them up and develop them properly. Lincoln Riley is the man for that job. Riley has big time college football head coaching experience. He knows what it takes to get a program to multiple playoff appearances and quite frankly the pathway is easier for him in the Pac 12 south. USC should never lose to BYU- EVER! Lincoln Riley will reset the natural order of things and see to it that results like this past Saturday are a thing of the past.

The biggest reason why Lincoln Riley will make for a simpatico relationship in South Central is because USC used to be and to some degree still is QB University. Riley is a quarterback whisperer. Even Riley detractors have to admit that aspect of his coaching résumé is without reproach. Riley’s résumé with high profile transfers like Baker Mayfield (a two star kid with only one D1 offer from Florida Atlantic University and had to walk on as a true freshman at Texas Tech), Kyler Murray (everyone thought he was a too small baseball guy, now he’s an NFL MVP candidate), and Jalen Hurts (turned him into a two year NFL starter after he got run out of Alabama). There’s a lot of up-and-coming QB talent known and unknown that will want to go play for Riley at USC. An early USC commit like Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t spurn USC for Alabama if Lincoln Riley is the coach. A hometown kid like Bryce Young doesn’t go cross country if Lincoln Riley is the coach at USC.

Also, Riley benching Spencer Rattler for the younger Caleb Williams during a big game like the Red River Rivalry Shootout showed me that he’s a coach that isn’t afraid to do what’s best to help the team win even in the biggest moments. As opposed to just staying loyal to a kid you made promises to during the recruiting phase. That’s a lesson that some head coaches around the country could learn from because that’s their biggest deficit as coaches. If you look at the University of Miami as an example, their entire season turned around when they started playing their better younger talent and sat down their underperforming upperclassmen.

USC is a sleeping giant and Lincoln Riley is the right hire to wake it up and dominate the Pac 12 again. USC is one top notch trigger man away from being a national power again. Riley is bringing most of the Oklahoma staff with him and this reformation could be more expeditious than many pundits think. Even the Oklahoma strength and conditioning guy wants to trade in the thunderstorms and tornadoes for the sunny and 65 of Southern California. Who can blame him? Venice Beach or Lake Thunderbird State Park? The Hollywood Walk of Fame or Sam Noble’s Museum of Natural history? Which would you choose? In the famous words of the late great African American poet 2Pac: “To live and die in L.A. It’s the place to be!” You’ve got to be there to experience it and know it. I believe that Lincoln Riley couldn’t agree more with Shakur and as a result Trojan fans worldwide have something to be excited about- because Lincoln Riley was definitely the right hire to make! Fight on!

For an alternate perspective on why Riley was the wrong hire for USC, click here.

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