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Why did Lincoln Riley leave Oklahoma? USC is said to have lured the coach away from the Sooners with a great move



Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley was adamant Saturday night when addressing rumors that he would become the next head coach at LSU. He didn’t even let the reporter finish his question by saying, “I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU. Next question.”

Instead, he will become the next head coach at USC, according to a report from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.

THAN: It turns out that USC-bound Lincoln Riley was honest about the LSU job

The move comes as a shock to objective observers of college football: 38-year-old Riley, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top youth coaches, has produced enduring success at one of the sport’s top shows. In five years, he has created four Big 12 championships, three College Football Playoff spots, two Heisman Trophy-winning midfielders at Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray (and runner-up at Jalen Hurts), plus the combined 9-2 against rivals Texas and Oklahoma State.

But the allure of the Pac-12’s premier soccer program — plus the distance from the Sooners’ imminent move to the SEC — seemed too much for Riley to turn down.

Sporting News has everything you need to know about Riley’s move to USC, including contract details and who will replace him at Oklahoma in the meantime:

Why did Lincoln Riley come to USC?

Riley has several potential reasons to leave Oklahoma and the Big 12 for USC. The first and most obvious reason is that he sees a chance of long-term and sustained success in Pac-12 as opposed to the Big 12 and, ultimately, the SEC.

The Pac-12 was largely unsuitable during the playoffs, with only Oregon (2014) and Washington (2016) competing for the sport’s final prize. It has seen multiple methods of success during that time period, but has largely experienced a power vacuum without Pete Carroll’s Trojan, Clay Helton’s Duck, or Chris Petersen’s Washington in the lead.

Riley, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top attacking minds, could step in almost immediately and cement USC as a college football powerhouse once again – a highlight of the school when lay off Clay Helton: find a coach “who will provide the championship aspirations we all share to our football program.” Trojan dropped to 4-7 after a 35-31 loss before BYU on Saturday.

Riley also has significant relationships built in the Southern California recruitment area. inside 2023 class recruitment alone, Riley has secured the commitments of Malachi Nelson (No. 2 overall, No. 1 QB, No. 1 California); Makai Lemon (22nd overall, #2 athlete, #2 athlete in California) and DeAndre Moore Jr. (No. 41 final, No. 8 WR, No. 5 in California). Oklahoma also has four players on its roster from the state of California.

THAN: What Oklahoma Loss of OSU Means for Cincinnati, Notre Dame and More

What impact does Oklahoma have on the SEC?

According to a report from Fox Sports Radio’s George Wrightster III, Riley is not a fan of the Sooners’ imminent move to the SEC:

Riley was 1-3 all the time against SEC teams while coaching the Sooners. These include the 54-48 loss in extra time to Georgia at the 2018 Rose Bowl; lost 45-34 to Alabama No. 1 at the 2018 Orange Bowl; and lost 63-28 to LSU #1 in the 2019 Peach Bowl. Each of those losses was a semi-final of the College Soccer League.

Riley’s only win over the SEC team was against Dan Mullen’s Gators in the Cotton Bowl 2020. The Sooners took a 55-20 win over a Gators team going through. Mullen fire next year and saw some of its top players opt out ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

In the Big 12, Oklahoma’s biggest rivals are Texas, Baylor and sometimes Oklahoma State (beating the Sooners 37-33 at Bedlam on Saturday). In the SEC, Oklahoma will compete with Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida in annual competition with Texas.

THAN: Why did USC shoot Clay Helton? Failure to Stanford was the last straw in a disappointing term

Lincoln Riley’s Age

Lincoln Riley was born on September 5, 1983, which means he is 38 years old. For comparison, other active coaches who have made the playoffs include Alabama coach Nick Saban (70 years old); Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly (60 years old); former Oregon coach Chip Kelly (58 years old); former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher (56 years old); Coach Clemson Dabo Swinney (52 years old); Coach Georgia Kirby Smart (45); and Ohio State coach Ryan Day (42 years old).

Three of those coaches (Saban, Fisher, and Smart) compete in the SEC.

What does it mean? Riley achieved resounding success at a much younger age than many of her peers. He’s also likely to stay in power for decades, as long as he elevates – then maintains – USC to the prominence of national football.

Lincoln Riley’s record at Oklahoma

Riley was a 55-10 total in five seasons at Oklahoma, including a 37-7 Big 12 record and a 1-3 bowl record. Prior to the COVID-19 affected 2020 season, Riley’s Sooners had never lost more than once in the regular season. His team also drew 4-0 in the Big 12 championship game, beating TCU, Texas, Baylor and Iowa State by 9.8 points per game.

The 2021 season is only the second time the Sooners have lost two regular games in the same year. It is also the first time since Riley took over in 2017, Oklahoma will not be in the Big 12 championship game. The Sooners need to beat Oklahoma State No. 7 in Bedlam on Saturday to secure a spot in the title. conference champion, but ultimately failed after a suffocating hit late in the fourth inning led to the Cowboys’ go-to encounter.

This is the first time since TCU and Baylor split the convention title in 2014, Oklahoma will not be the champion of the Big 12.

THAN: Who is Billy Napier? Meet Florida’s new head coach to replace Dan Mullen

Lincoln Riley contract details

Lincoln Riley’s contract details are still unknown. That said, Riley is said to have received an offer of $12-13 million from LSU, another team hunting for his services. USC contracts should be in the same ballpark.

Riley signed a $38.9 million contract extension ahead of the 2021 season, keeping him under contract with Oklahoma through the end of the 2025-26 season. Per USA Today, that contract paid Riley $7.6 million annually through January 1, 2026. USA Today also reported his acquisition at $4.5 million.

Who replaced Riley in Oklahoma?

According to a report from The Athletic, Oklahoma will be looking to former Sooners coach Bob Stoops as an interim football coach:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter also indicated that the Sooners are targeting former Texas Tech coach – and current Arizona Cardinals coach – Kliff Kingsbury. So far, the Cardinals are 9-2 in the 2021 NFL season.

As for who else could fill the position in the long term, there are several options available. Those include Bob Stoops, brother and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and former Oklahoma and current Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, among others.





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