Lincoln Riley has reportedly informed his staff at Oklahoma that he’s leaving to become the head coach at USC. The Sooners lost their annual Bedlam matchup to in-state archrival Oklahoma State 37-33 on Saturday.
The loss eliminated the Sooners from the Big 12 Championship and College Football Playoff. Riley was quick to dispel the rumors about his possible interest in the LSU opening at his postgame press conference.
— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) November 28, 2021
But today he’s singing a different tune as he prepares to leave the rural scenes of Norman, Oklahoma, for the big city lights in Tinseltown at the University of Southern California. The Trojans were able to secure the highly coveted head coach with hopes that Riley can elevate USC back into national championship contention.
Riley Signed A Huge Extension With OU Last Summer
Riley’s departure from Oklahoma comes just one season into a massive six-year extension that the Sooners and Riley agreed to in 2020.
Riley’s come-up in Norman was swift after he was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach in 2017, replacing Bob Stoops, who retired.
Riley had some talented quarterbacks at his disposal and did a superb job of developing them into pros. He coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) and one Heisman runner-up in Jalen Hurts.
Riley’s success with the trio earned him a reputation as a quarterback guru. His teams went 55-10 (37-7 in conference) with four Big 12 Championships and three College Football Playoff appearances.
The explosiveness of his offense was second to none during his tenure in Norman.
ITS A GREAT DAY TO BE A TROJAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
— Matt Leinart (@MattLeinartQB) November 28, 2021
Why Riley Chose USC Over Oklahoma
Riley did amazing things at Oklahoma, but after preseason expectations of a national championship and Spencer Rattler’s disastrous showing after being projected as a Heisman finalist, it’s possible that Riley felt he peaked.
Riley may not have won a national title, but he’s been close. Oklahoma will have to settle for a brief legacy of near misses. While Norman is a beautiful place to live, it isn’t Los Angeles.
Oklahoma is undoubtedly a top 10 college football job, but a winning USC program probably ranks among the top five jobs in the country. It might be considered a classless move by some, but Power 5 coaching is all about the dinero.
On the USC/Riley bombshell: Things really escalated late last night and into this morning, I’m told. For Riley, it was the appeal of LA; the local recruiting talent; and the opportunity of trying to rebuild a brand. That was all very enticing to him. https://t.co/4008Dl0IR2
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 28, 2021
The QB Position Talent In California Is Like No Other
The most critical position in football is the quarterback position. And the state of California is loaded with them. Bryce Young (Alabama), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), CJ Stroud (Ohio State) and DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson) are all from California.
No way all of them come East with a guy like Riley manning the signature program on the West Coast. Now one of the best offensive minds in college football is being paired with the quarterback talent in California.
The Pac 12 Needs This Infusion Of Coaching Talent
The Pac 12 hasn’t sent a team to the CFP since Washington in 2016. Only twice has a team from the West Coast made the playoffs. Riley brings that pedigree to the conference plus an aura of offensive and recruiting genius as well. In a conference where there aren’t many big names aside from Chip Kelly at UCLA or David Shaw at Stanford, Riley is a huge get.
USC has been searching for a guy who can stem the tide and get things back on track since Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks.
Lincoln Riley may just be that guy. Either way he’s getting a major check and moving to Hollywood. The 38-year-old from Lubbock is officially leveling up and going from the grind to the glitz.
More news from our partners: