Lincoln Riley Assembles USC Coaching Staff

Coaching turmoil has enveloped the USC football program for quite a while but the waters immediately calmed when, at the end of November, the university announced the hiring of former Oklahoma coach, Lincoln Riley.

“I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach,” Riley said in a press release.

“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. 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.”

It was an enormous coup for the Trojans and a tremendous loss for the Sooners’ football program. In fact, once news broke that Riley would be leaving Oklahoma, the No. 3 ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300, Los Alamitos High School quarterback Malachi Nelson, announced on social media that he was decommitting from Oklahoma “in light of the recent events and changes.”

The stunning news of USC’s new hire reverberated throughout the college football ranks and it is expected that even the sports betting community will take notice once the odds are posted for next season’s conference and national champions. Many professional handicappers have taken notice of the move and will be including USC in their college football picks to win the Pac-12 next season.

If you were to look up USC’s odds to win the national championship before this season commenced you would have seen that the Trojans were in the Top 20 choices at 50-1, but as we all know they had an underwhelming 2021 campaign.

Head coach Clay Helton was relieved of his duties after the second game of the year in which the Trojans were embarrassed by Stanford, 42-28. We should also note that the Trojans had been installed as 17 ½ point favorites in that one and Donte Williams was named interim head coach. USC would conclude with a disappointing 4-8 record which included losses in their last four games in which they lost by an average margin of 14 ½ points.

Riley Arms With Familiar Staff

Although not all of the decisions have been made to Lincoln Riley’s USC coaching staff, we have seen enough to know that at least some of his coaches at Norman will go where he goes. Case in point, director of football operations, Clarke Stroud, and Bennie Wylie, director of sports performance, were on a private jet with Riley heading to Los Angeles the moment he summoned them.

“These guys got on a plane with me this morning, without a contract, without anything,” Riley said. “They have been instrumental in our success at Oklahoma and I think it says a lot that they wanted to be here with you, with all of us, and I can’t imagine doing it with any other guys.”

Alex Grinch is another coach plucked from his Sooners’ staff and is the new defensive coordinator at USC, a team that has one of the most porous defenses in the nation, allowing over 32 points and 422 combined yards per game.

Grinch emphasizes speed and in addition to building one of the stingiest defenses in the Big 12, the Sooners were ballhawks, ranked third in the nation in interceptions.

Dennis Simmons is another coach fleeing Norman for the sun-kissed shores of California, as his connections with Riley run long and deep. They began working together well over a decade ago at Texas Tech as assistant coaches and wound up together at East Carolina with Riley as the offensive coordinator and Simmons taking charge of the receiving corps. Simmons would move on to Washington State as their receivers coach for three years before joining Riley at Oklahoma.

There will be more coaching vacancies filled but right now the Trojans have their man, and their man has brought with him a close coterie of advisors whom he has relied on for several years. It is speculated that one of the reasons Riley left Oklahoma is the school’s imminent departure out of the Big 12 and into the SEC where he would be tasked with beating the likes of Nick Saban and his perennial champions, the Crimson Tide.

We do know he spurned overtures from LSU which would keep the narrative alive that he didn’t want to tread in SEC Country. But whatever the case may be, the Big 12 has a big name to contend with and USC is once again, on the map.