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#pounditTuesday, February 7, 2023

Lincoln Riley

Former USC star rips Lincoln Riley after Cotton Bowl collapse

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Most associated with USC football would feel very optimistic about the future of the program despite a disappointing end to Lincoln Riley’s first season as head coach. LenDale White is not one of those people.

The former USC running back ranted on Twitter after the Trojans blew a 15-point lead with less than five minutes remaining to lose 46-45 to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. In a series of tweets, White criticized Riley and the defense, and even went as far as to say it was “a shame to be a Trojan” right now.

White was not done there. In a tweet directed at Riley, he wrote that “that bend don’t break Defense s–t you brought from OU ain’t gonna cut it.” He further added that “our defense and whoever’s a part of it is a f—ing joke.” White also retweeted a reply he received calling for the firing of defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

Most would probably argue that White is being a little dramatic here. Yes, the way the Trojans’ season ended was a big disappointment, as they could have been a playoff team prior to the Pac-12 championship loss to Utah. However, the program is healthier than it has been in years, and Riley has not been shy about saying so.

White was a part of the famed USC near-dynasty from 2003-2005 and led the team in rushing for two of his three seasons, outpacing even Reggie Bush. If that is the standard he is setting for the Trojans, sure, they are not there yet. They probably aren’t making as much money as White did, either.

Lincoln Riley reveals extent of Caleb Williams’ Pac-12 title game injury

Caleb Williams in a USC headband

Nov 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) watches game action against the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

USC coach Lincoln Riley revealed just how hurt quarterback Caleb Williams had been during Friday’s Pac-12 title game.

Riley said after the game that Williams had “popped his hamstring” early in the 47-24 loss, but had refused to come out of the game when pressed. The coach admitted that Williams had not even been close to 50 percent for the bulk of the game.

“He popped his hamstring on the long run that was on a second or third drive of the game,” Riley said, via Brad Crawford of 247 Sports. “I asked him at one point, are you 50%? He was not even close to 50%. I definitely thought about taking him out. He wouldn’t have let me, and he didn’t let me. He wouldn’t even let me take him out at the end.”

Williams played the whole game despite the injury. His performance was markedly worse after the team’s first two drives, though he still wound up going 28/41 for 363 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.

In addition to the hamstring issue, Williams was pretty beaten up in other ways. The fact that he managed to finish the game anyway is pretty remarkable, even in a losing effort.

Lincoln Riley sends message to college football world after USC win

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley had a message for the college football world after his USC Trojans picked up a huge 48-45 win over the rival UCLA Bruins on Saturday.

Riley’s Trojans are 10-1 in his first season as their head coach. They entered the rivalry game 9-1, while UCLA entered 8-2, making this the biggest game in the rivalry since 2005. The game lived up to the hype, and USC prevailed, keeping their hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff alive.

Riley wanted to make sure the college football world knew that.

After leaving Oklahoma for Los Angeles, he was sure to share the point that college football in LA is back.

“I just want to say, college football on the West Coast, and here in LA, is alive and well,” Riley said after the game.

It’s important for Riley to send that message. For the last handful of years, college football in LA had seemed dead. There was a period when UCLA had faltered under Jim Mora and was bad under Chip Kelly. USC, after Sam Darnold left, struggled under Clay Helton. Many top recruits from Southern California left for other programs around the country rather than stay home the way they used to.

Riley is trying to build USC into a powerhouse, and he’s trying to communicate that message to let everyone know that the Trojans are a national factor again. He also knows that UCLA being good is beneficial for the city and respect the area can command nationally.

USC fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a great gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Lincoln Riley lied about not calling timeout against UCLA

Lincoln Riley signaling for a timeout

Lincoln Riley was upset with the referees in Saturday’s UCLA-USC game over a timeout call early in the game.

The Trojans had a 3rd-and-6 at the UCLA 14 in a scoreless game in the first quarter. The play clock was ticking down and Riley leaned over to the official and signaled for a timeout with a second left on the play clock.

USC was awarded the timeout, which was their second of the game. But Riley was ticked.

The USC head coach argued that he didn’t want the timeout call even though a video clearly showed he made the timeout gesture with his hands.

USC threw an incomplete pass after the timeout, and then kicker Denis Lynch missed a 32-yard field goal attempt, giving the ball to the Bruins. UCLA responded with a touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Lincoln Riley blasts refs after USC’s loss to Utah

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC was on the losing end of an epic shootout with Utah on Saturday night, and Lincoln Riley openly criticized the officiating crew after the game.

The Trojans were called for a season-high 12 penalties in their 43-42 loss. Those penalties included a pair of questionable roughing the passer calls. One of them negated an interception in the first quarter. USC was leading 14-0 at the time, and Utah went on to score a touchdown on the drive. You can see the play below:

The other roughing the passer call was just as costly. It came on 3rd-and-6 when Utah had the ball at their own 36. The Utes scored a touchdown on that drive as well to tie the score at 35-35.

Riley called the officiating “really poor” while speaking with reporters after the game.

While Riley said he was not blaming the loss on the officiating, you can understand why he was not happy. Both calls came at crucial moments in the game. Had the interception stood with USC leading 14-0, it is possible the Trojans would have gone up 21-0. That could have changed the game dramatically.

USC WR Jordan Addison has blunt response to tampering allegations

Jordan Addison warming up

Sep 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) warms up before the game against the Western Michigan Broncos at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Addison transferred from Pittsburgh to USC this offseason amid accusations of tampering, and offered a simple response to those questioning the motive behind his decision.

Addison, last season’s Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, departed for Southern California under some suspicion that he was leaving Pitt for name, image and likeness deals.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday for the first time since transferring to USC, Addison strongly rebuked the notion that his choice to transfer to USC was due to monetary reasons.

“Just some BS,” Addison said via Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Times. “But I mean, the truth always going to come to light, so I just make sure I’m just going to keep working and make sure I’m ready for the season.”

In May, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi took a shot at Addison over Addison’s entry into the transfer portal. He felt that USC head coach Lincoln Riley was actively recruiting Addison. Riley took exception to Narduzzi’s accusations, and indicated that Addison’s transfer was only football-motivated.

Addison seemed to corroborate what Riley said when speaking to ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti in May at Steve Clarkson’s quarterbacks retreat in Santa Monica, Calif. The 20-year-old told Uggetti that his decision had to do with the opportunity to bring his game to new heights. Addison said the Trojans showed him the improvements he could make to become even better.

Addison had 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns last season. With a talented quarterback in Caleb Williams at the helm for the Trojan offense this season, Addison could be in line for another fantastic year.

Lincoln Riley not happy with Pat Narduzzi’s accusations

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley is not at all happy with the accusations from Pat Narduzzi.

Narduzzi took issue with Riley, feeling that the USC coach was actively recruiting former Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, who entered the transfer portal and eventually chose USC.

Riley fought off accusations from Narduzzi back in April and May. He once again addressed the accusations while speaking at the Pac-12’s media event. Riley said he took the accusations personally.

“When someone challenges that with no facts and only emotion, do you take it personally? Absolutely you do,” Riley said. “I understand this is an emotional time. It’s an emotional game with a lot of emotional people. We recruited Jordan just like we did every other transfer. Jordan got in the transfer portal. Jordan came on a visit to USC. Despite all the negative things that were put out magically by somebody, he’s a kid that’s all about ball.”

Riley went on to praise Addison, saying the former Pitt wide receiver is extremely focused on football. That is Riley’s way of trying to say that Addison’s transfer was solely football-motivated.

Addison was an All-American last season at Pitt. He had 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for the Panthers. But with Kenny Pickett gone in the NFL, Addison probably thought it would be a good time for him to transfer.

Lincoln Riley offers noteworthy comments Kyler Murray’s work ethic

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals included a controversial study clause in Kyler Murray’s massive contract extension that brought Murray’s work ethic into question. But USC head coach Lincoln Riley, Murray’s college coach at Oklahoma, feels differently.

The clause, which the Cardinals removed on Wednesday, required Murray to put in four hours of independent study per week throughout the season.

Speaking to reporters during the Pac-12 Media Day on Friday, Riley said that Murray had a tireless work ethic while the two were at Oklahoma.

“Yes, I was concerned. I was concerned he would burn himself out,” Riley said via Action Network’s Brett McMurphy. “He pushes the limits. He loves football. He loves to compete & win. I never worried about the amount of preparation he put in.”

Murray appears to agree with Riley’s assessment. He spoke to the media in a surprise appearance on Thursday and said that questions surrounding his work ethic were “disrespectful.” Murray notably did not comment on whether he was mad at the Cardinals for including the clause.

The 24-year-old has had good results to start his NFL career. In three seasons, Murray has 11,480 passing yards and 70 touchdowns to 34 interceptions. He also has 1,786 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.

Lincoln Riley reacts to monstrous Kyler Murray contract extension

Lincoln Riley with USC

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals agreed to a contract extension on Thursday that made Murray the second-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, and Murray’s former college coach was thrilled with the news.

Murray’s deal is worth $230.5 million over five years, including $160 million guaranteed. Only Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has a contract with more guaranteed money ($230 million).

Lincoln Riley, Murray’s college coach for two seasons at Oklahoma, reacted to Murray’s deal on Twitter with a prideful message for his former quarterback.

“So proud of @K1,” Riley wrote. “Anyone that knows him knows this isn’t why he does it. From conversations about even getting a shot to play in the NFL to today…couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”

Murray, who transferred from Texas A&M to Oklahoma in late 2015, had tremendous success with the Sooners while playing under Riley. The 24-year-old won the 2018 Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,053 yards with 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also led the Sooners to a 12-1 record and a College Football Playoff berth that season.

Riley had a successful tenure at Oklahoma before leaving the school in late 2021 to take the head coaching job at USC. The Sooners went 55-10 during Riley’s five seasons, not including their win under interim head coach Bob Stoops during the Alamo Bowl last December.

Report: Pat Narduzzi furious with Lincoln Riley over reported transfer

Pat Narduzzi in a Pitt shirt

Oct 5, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi looks on before the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Pittsburgh Panthers defeated the Duke Blue Devils 33-30. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The overhaul of NCAA rules regarding transfers and NIL rights has led to a lot of new issues for coaches to deal with. It may also spark at least one high-level coaching feud.

Reports indicated Friday that Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison is considering a transfer, with USC among the All-American’s potential destinations. Addison had 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

The potential loss of Addison led Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi to make several calls to USC coach Lincoln Riley to express his displeasure, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN.

Pitt officials believe tampering may have occurred with Addison. Such charges would be difficult to prove, but they are likely fueling the anger from Pitt toward Riley and USC.

Riley has aggressively retooled the USC program since taking over as coach at the end of last season. That, combined with how he has conducted himself since the move, has made him some enemies, and Narduzzi may be one of them going forward.