Lincoln Riley Calls USC Job “Surreal”, Says Leaving Oklahoma Tough But “Fair” – .

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Lincoln Riley Calls USC Job “Surreal”, Says Leaving Oklahoma Tough But “Fair” – .


All Lincoln Riley had to do was say yes, take a three hour flight, change the hue of his red tie -om crimson to cardinal – and it was suddenly sunny, 75 degrees in late November, standing in the interior of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Monday afternoon being billed as the 18th head coach in USC football history.

“Wow, is this real? Amazing, ”said Riley, turning to admire the Los Angeles skyline on one side, the Hollywood sign on the other. “It’s a surreal moment, to be honest. “

Riley’s overnight hiring away from Oklahoma that rippled throughout the sport gave way to a festive shock Monday. As Riley pinched himself, USC administrators and brokers reveled in the glory of a statement hire while still being surprised to end up here in the first place.

“Our goal has never been to change the landscape of college football with one of the greatest moves in football history,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn. “But that’s exactly what we did. “

Bohn’s confidence was palpable throughout the ceremony and after. He called USC the “sleeping giant” who had been awakened.

In Oklahoma for the past five seasons, Riley has led a team that has made three college football playoff appearances, four Big-12 titles and four 10-win seasons, while also developing two Heisman-winning quarterbacks at Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. USC, meanwhile, failed to advance to the college football playoffs, won just one Pac-12 title and went 33-23 during that span.

“We felt the pressure,” Bohn said, noting that his peers often tell him that “when USC is good, it’s good for college football.”

USC has been linked with several candidates since they fired Clay Helton in October. But not once had Riley’s name appeared. On Saturday night, Riley was asked about his upcoming name in LSU coach rumors. “I won’t be LSU’s next head coach,” he said. USC, however, was another story.

“It was hard to leave where I left off,” Riley said when asked about Oklahoma. “But at the same time, I knew it was the right thing. Asked later whether Riley had left Oklahoma due to their impending SEC transfer, Riley said it had “no impact” on his decision.

“People are going to say what they are going to say,” he said.

To hear from Riley, Bohn, and USC Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna, Riley’s hiring process was a high-flying act that involved months of work, several consultants, more than a dozen approved candidates, about 400 pages of data and 50- slide presentation that USC showed to top influencers as part of their research process.

It all came to a head on Saturday night, as Sosna paced back and forth in a sequel to the USC-BYU game while the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game was on one of the screens. As the outcome of the match fell by the wayside, they knew it could tip Riley’s decision or at the very least delay it.

“It came quickly. But to be honest these days in college football it kind of has to, ”said Riley. According to him, USC reached out on Sunday morning with genuine interest and they were able to jump on a Zoom call where they made their final speech to Riley. In a few hours, the move was formalized.

“Everything intrigued me,” said Riley. “The location, the history of the program, the opportunities here to recruit, to build a national championship level team. The opportunity for my family to live in a new place. “

During his press conference on Monday, Riley also announced that Alex Grinch of Oklahoma will be USC’s new defensive coordinator, while Clark Stroud, Denis Simmons and Benny Wiley will respectively assume the director of football operations, the Wide Receiver Coach and Head Strength Coach.

“These guys got on a plane with me this morning without a contract,” Riley said.

Although Bohn declined to go into details of the contract, he said the financial commitments “include a competitive spirit” that matches Riley’s. “We understand the competitive nature of what’s going on in the market,” Bohn said. Riley, for his part, said the roster presented by USC and the support it received made the decision easier for him.

Even though there is one game left at USC in his season – a postponed clash against Cal on Saturday who will be coached by interim Donte Williams – Riley said he would get down to work in the shadows on recruiting anytime soon. following with a first day of signing a few weeks one way. Several Oklahoma 5-star engagements with West Coast ties have already disengaged from the Sooners in the past few days.

“We plan to build the best team in the country and, in this dressing room, the best culture in the country,” said Riley. ” [The Coliseum] is going to be full. It will be the Mecca of college football. ”

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