USC taps Lincoln Riley as new football coach

(News4usonline) – The search for a new head coach is over for the USC Trojans football program. The big fish that everyone wanted comes in the form of Lincoln Riley. In his five seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners, Riley led the Big 12 power to four conference titles and three College Football Playoff appearances.

He also has won 85 percent of the games he has coached and is often described as one of the brightest minds in college football. The announcement of the hiring of Riley was made by USC athletic director Mike Bohn. 

“We are ecstatic to announce Lincoln Riley as our new head coach and welcome his wife Caitlin and their daughters Sloan and Stella to the Trojan Family,” said Bohn. “Lincoln is the rarest combination of extraordinary person and elite football coach. His successes and offensive accolades as a head coach the past five years are astonishing. Lincoln will recruit relentlessly, develop his players on and off the field, and implement a strong culture in which the program will operate with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. 

“Lincoln is universally considered one of the brightest and most talented football coaches in the nation, and the fact that he chose USC is a testament to the strength of our brand, the power of the Trojan Family, and the leadership of our university. This is for our current players, our former players, our alumni, our fans, and our entire university community. Our time is now.”

The hiring of Riley puts a bow on a difficult season for the Trojans. First, the Trojans let go of Clay Helton a couple of games into the 2021 college football season. Donte Williams was named as the interim head coach for the football program after Helton’s departure.

With a game remaining on the schedule against Cal, the Trojans currently sport a 4-7 record, something that is clearly not what USC alumni may have had in mind. That 62-33 thrashing on United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to crosstown rival UCLA, may have sped up the process of the Trojans’ head coaching search.

“Lincoln Riley is the perfect choice for our new head coach,” USC President Carol L. Folt said. “He is known for caring about the development and character of his players and winning at the highest level. Mike Bohn and I share a vision for the future of USC Athletics and hiring Coach Riley is a huge statement about where we are going as a program. I cannot wait to welcome Coach Riley and his family to Los Angeles and the Trojan Family.”

While at Oklahoma, Riley compiled a 55-10 mark as head coach and developed current NFL talent at the quarterback position such as Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

Winning the recruiting battle, especially for local talent, is something that the Trojans have lost ground to other college football powers. For example, both Bryce Young (Mater Dei High School), a Heisman Trophy candidate for Alabama, and Clemson’s D.J Ulagalelei (St. John Bosco) were two of the most heralded quarterbacks in the country as prep stars. Riley should and is expected to change that narrative.

Both Murray and Mayfield were Heisman Trophy winners. Hurts finished as the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior season at Oklahoma. 

“I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach,” Riley said in a released statement. “USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning.  I look forward to honoring that successful tradition and building on it. The pieces are in place for us to build the program back to where it should be and the fans expect it to be.” 

Riley continued, “We will work hard to develop a physical football team that is dominant on both lines of scrimmage and has a dynamic balanced offense and a stout aggressive defense. I want to thank the administration, coaches and players at Oklahoma for five incredible years as their head coach.  We accomplished some great things there and I will always cherish my time as a Sooner.”

Before becoming the head coach at Oklahoma, Riley had worked for the Sooners as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for two seasons. And prior to that, he spent five years in the same position for East Carolina. Riley launched his collegiate coaching career as a student assistant at Texas Tech in 2003.

Featured Image: USC introduces former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley as its top person to run its football program. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline