In the lead-up to the 2022 season, the Trojans football program found itself in dire straits. A string of lackluster performances left them drowning at the bottom, suffering their worst season since the turn of the millennium, failing to secure more than half of their games since 2000.
Desperation was the name of the game, and significant transformations were imperative. The Trojans acted swiftly, resurrecting their fortunes with the acquisition of head coach Lincoln Riley. This move sent shockwaves through the college football landscape, signifying the Trojans’ resurgence on the horizon. To sweeten the deal, Riley brought along his star quarterback from Oklahoma, former five-star recruit Caleb Williams. Combining their offensive brilliance with strategic transfers, committed players, and the allure of the city of Los Angeles, USC was poised for a triumphant return to the gridiron.
Yet, despite their newfound strength, USC’s aspirations remained unfulfilled. A relentless pursuit of excellence defined the Trojans’ ethos, with a foundation and culture ingrained in every member of the program. In a recent conversation with ESPN’s college football expert, Pete Thamel, Caleb Williams delved into the profound changes Lincoln Riley had initiated in such a brief span. The culture had unquestionably taken root, emanating from the top and permeating through the ranks.
“He gave us a playbook for our culture, and then he just stayed consistent with it. Whether it’s accountability, which is part of our culture, and then having good leaders. Great teams are led by players, so that’s been something we been trying to push as players ourselves.”
Riley and his team translated this newfound culture onto the field, but the journey was far from effortless. Only in the second year of Riley’s tenure, the Trojans demonstrated an impressive cohesion on the field. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal remained untouched: a national championship. This pursuit had always defined USC, and it would remain the driving force behind their efforts.
In the world of college football, Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, USC had laid the groundwork, meticulously assembling the pieces for their triumphant return. With unwavering determination and a resolute culture in place, the Trojans now stand on the precipice of greatness. The path to the national championship beckons, and USC is steadfast in its resolve to stay the course until they reach the pinnacle of collegiate football.