USC goes fishing and lands itself a whale

The University of Southern California (USC) announced yesterday that Lincoln Riley will become the school’s new Head Football Coach in a huge coup by Trojans Athletic Director, Mike Bohn.  

Riley is widely regarded as one of the best offensive coaches and recruiters in college football. Boasting two first overall picks and three current starting NFL quarterbacks from his three previous starters in Norman.   

USC released a statement from their new head coach yesterday evening that read, “I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach. 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 honouring that successful tradition and building on it.”  

The facts are what they are and the coach-speak is mind-numbingly boring. What we all love as college football fans and consumers are narratives. So, let’s cover a couple of the narratives and questions that will inevitably engross the industry until we arrive at conference championship Saturday.  

Lincoln Riley fears the SEC:  

There is probably a slight kernel of truth in this. It’s unlikely Riley is scared of coaching in the SEC. However, is being the premier programme in your conference in one of the most fertile recruiting locations in the country a less daunting prospect than going up against Alabama, Georgia and LSU for recruits in their own back yard? Yes, yes it is.  

There is also the fact that Riley will have fewer obstacles in his way to achieve success nationally than if he was coaching in the SEC at either Oklahoma or LSU. The College Football Playoff is set to expand to 12 teams in the near future, with automatic bids to conference winners one of the more universally agreed upon aspects of the proposal. Going up against Oregon and Washington as the powers within your conference is a much more surmountable task than any road out of the SEC.  

What will happen to Oklahoma’s recruiting class?  

Right now, it isn’t looking good. Lincoln Riley was the main reason why recruits chose to play for Oklahoma, and this is already being reflected in the decommits.   

Five-star wide receiver and the number one over 2022 wide-out Brandon Inniss was the first domino to fall. Inniss was quickly followed by five-star running back Raleek Brown and four-star running back Treyaun Webb. Brown is a Santa Ana, California native so no guesses for where he’s being crystal-balled. The damage, however, was not limited to skill position players. The Sooners’ top prospect in the 2023 class, quarterback Malachi Nelson, the No. 2 recruit in the nation, also decommitted. Nelson, like Brown is also a California native.  

There have also been announcements by current players that they will be entering the transfer portal. Wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and quarterback Spencer Rattler have already announced their intentions to play at new schools in 2022. 

Oklahoma fans shouldn’t panic too much. This normally occurs when a coach who embodies the identity of a programme leaves his position. The important thing now is finding his replacement and seeing if some of those decommits can be rescued.  

LSU isn’t as good a job as USC  

Flat out wrong. The last three head coaches at LSU have all won national championships. There is also the lack of an in-state rival. Which consequently means every powerful person with political capital in Louisiana has got your back. It has also been clear that since the Pete Caroll dynasty, USC has failed to invest. In facilities, staffing and recruiting alike in the way SEC powers do.   

However, you could easily argue LSU is a much tougher job than USC. LSU must beat out Bama, Auburn, Texas A&M and now a resurgent Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin to even reach the SEC championship game. That’s before facing one of Georgia or Florida, depending on which team is more elite that year. The hardest game USC faces before the PAC 12 title game is their non-conference matchup against Notre Dame. 

Regardless, news breaking as I’m writing this is telling me that Brian Kelly will be the next LSU head coach. At least for Riley’s sake he’ll be saved some online abuse as disgruntled LSU fans will now focus on this just released news. 

What does this mean for Oklahoma? 

Former head coach Bob Stoops has been announced as the head coach for the Sooners’ bowl game. But beyond that, nothing has come out of Norman. This is largely to be expected. As the Sooners’ Athletic Director, Joe Castiglione was likely unaware he was about to lose his head football coach. 

I’m not going to speculate about potential candidates because it’s a waste of time and I don’t have any kind of inside source. What I will say is the Oklahoma job is about to get a lot, lot harder in the coming years. The perfect candidate is one who wants the job because of the challenge presented by competing in the SEC.  

The Oklahoma head coaching position is still a great job, with great history that is about to move to the greatest conference. Make the right hire and there’s no reason the horizon won’t be a bright one for the Oklahoma football programme. 

Written by Jake @dyanstybrit

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