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USC literally and figuratively cannot afford to fire Lincoln Riley

No, you can’t rid of your very pricey coach Trojans. At least not yet.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, welcome. I’m going to cut to the chase and answer the question you’re thinking: no, USC is not going to fire head coach Lincoln Riley, even after his Trojans were crushed by crosstown rival UCLA 38-20 on Saturday.

USC is a private institution, so it doesn’t have to share contract details but Riley’s contract is reportedly worth 10 years for $110 million. Along with that large contract, his buyout is estimated somewhere between $80-$90 million if the school were to fire him at this moment. That would be more than what Texas A&M is currently paying Jimbo Fisher and that would be fiscally irresponsible for an even a mega name brand like USC. For a program that is fighting to maintain national relevance while transitioning to the Big Ten, a snap coach firing could create chaos.

While Riley is in no danger of losing his job, this season was an unequivocal failure for the Trojans and he’ll have to own every bit of it. USC was expected to be a Pac-12/College Football Playoff contender with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams back under center. Instead, the decision to keep Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator doomed them as the defense was consistently shredded week-after-week. The floodgates opened with their 48-20 loss to Notre Dame and with subsequent losses to Utah, Washington, and Oregon, their championship aspirations went straight into the dumpster.

Outside of whatever bowl game the 7-5 Trojans get invited to, the Williams era in Los Angeles is now over as he’ll be off to prep for the NFL Draft soon. Riley’s first order of business will be finding a new defensive coordinator, followed by getting five-star backup QB Malachi Nelson prepared for their first year in the Big Ten next season. The head coach is safe, but if he continues to squander talent like he did this year, then the hot seat talks will become serious in the future.