Update: Lincoln Riley to USC is officially official, per the team’s social media account.
Update: Within the span of 20 minutes, there’s a blazing cloud of smoke around this fire. Riley appears to be L.A. bound.
USC is reportedly targeting Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley to fill its coaching vacancy, a move that would send an already chaotic college football coaching carousel into hyperdrive.
Sources: USC is targeting Lincoln Riley as the school’s next coach.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 28, 2021
Lincoln Riley just informed his staff at Oklahoma that he’s taking the head coaching job at USC, a source tells @On3sports— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) November 28, 2021
Thamel also reports that the school could be making an announcement within the next 24 hours.
Riley is 55-10 in five seasons as the head coach in Norman, including three losses in the College Football Playoff. He has lost exactly two games every season during his tenure, setting up a belief that there’s a cap on how high a team can compete coming from the Big 12.
Though there’s a recruiting base in Texas, it’s more difficult than ever to get kids out of a state with 12 FBS teams already. Whereas in Southern California, one of the hotbeds of college football anywhere in the country, USC is still the iconic brand of a region. The Pac-12 isn’t exactly a gauntlet for the Trojans when things are rolling, and the glamour and giltz of Hollywood can be of massive appeal especially in an era of NIL rights for players.
Riley was initially rumored to be a prime candidate for the head coaching vacancy at LSU. However, he immediately shut down speculation following Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State, flat out telling the media “I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU.” If this USC report are accurate, it’ll be one of the savviest coaching smoke screens of all-time.
This is a huge get for USC AD Mike Bohn, who was thought to possibly be targeting Luke Fickell who he hired while in charge of the Cincinnati Bearcats. But Riley is a young coach that has an exciting offense, and he should have access to even more talent in SoCal. Plus the push of Heritage Hall to become more “aligned” in terms of goals from the President, Board, AD, and boosters has seemed to come to fruition under Bohn.
It’s a home run in Hollywood. Now all the Trojans must do is win.