In a shocking turn of events, USC Trojans football head coach Lincoln Riley found himself facing a barrage of questions following a brutal Week 7 loss to a school rival. Notre Dame’s dominance across all three phases of the game left Trojan fans perplexed, pondering what had transpired with the highly touted former Oklahoma Sooners leader that USC had hired.
According to a recent piece by Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire, the prevailing sentiment suggests that Riley’s former school, the Oklahoma Sooners, may have actually improved since his departure, while USC’s fortunes continue to slide. Zemek points out that defensive guru Brent Venables, who took the reins after Riley’s exit, successfully addressed many of the issues left behind and reinvigorated the Sooners, making them contenders once more.
Brent Venables inherited a difficult situation and was not nearly as deft in the transfer portal in the 2022 offseason as Lincoln Riley was. OU was set up to fail in 2022, and Venables needed time for Jerry Schmidt’s strength program to take effect because he had a bunch of players who weren’t used to that regimen when he took over the Sooners. Conversely, Riley’s instant portal infusion of talent set up USC well for 2022, and he inherited offensive linemen coached well by Clay McGuire. The portal pickup of Bobby Haskins from Virginia also proved to be huge. Bennie Wylie’s strength program wasn’t all that central or transformative for these linemen. They were already seasoned and developed by other previous coaches.
Riley, on the other hand, suffered a disheartening defeat early in USC’s final year in the Pac-12 conference. As the dust settles, it seems likely that he will find himself on the periphery of the College Football Playoff (CFP) picture once again, a far cry from the expectations that accompanied his surprise hire by USC in 2022.
- USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley faces intense scrutiny following a crushing loss to a school rival.
- Oklahoma Sooners, under Brent Venables, seem to have improved since Riley’s departure, while USC continues to struggle.
- Riley’s tenure at USC may fall short of the lofty expectations set upon his arrival in 2022.
This certainly wasn’t the outcome envisioned by anyone associated with USC football when Riley was brought on board. With their ultimate goals slipping further from reach, the Trojans must now grapple with the reality of their situation. As the season unfolds, all eyes will remain on Riley and his ability to turn the tide for USC. Will the Trojans find their way back to prominence, or has Lincoln Riley’s magic run its course? Only time will tell.
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