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#pounditSunday, June 26, 2022

Lincoln Riley has interesting explanation for taking USC job

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

Lincoln Riley’s decision to leave Oklahoma for USC came as a real shocker. One of the big reasons for the confusion was what Riley had to gain by doing it. He has been successful at Oklahoma and had the full support of the program, so the logical conclusion for many was that it was about the money.

Riley offered a different explanation, and a very interesting one at that. The coach suggested that he thought his ceiling at USC would be higher than it was at Oklahoma.

“One of the things I evaluated in this opportunity is I think we can build one of the best rosters in the country,” Riley told Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the “Move The Sticks” podcast. “I don’t think. I know we can. … As college football is changing and a lot of things are shifting, each program, you’ve got to have your niche. You’ve got to have your thing that separates you or makes you different. I think this is one of the most unique settings and unique opportunities in college football, not just for coaches, but for players.

“My confidence level that we can build a roster that will be as good as anybody in the country is very high. It’s because of the people here and the opportunities here and I think that’s something that can happen very quickly.”

Oklahoma fans will be even more peeved by Riley’s comment, as it can be taken as a suggestion that the Sooners can’t compete as capably with college football’s elite. Riley’s calculation might be pretty sound, though. Oklahoma’s coming move to the SEC may be beneficial financially, but winning games will be harder in a much more difficult conference. By comparison, the Pac-12 is much more winnable. Plus, Southern California is a hotbed of talent to recruit, and Riley has already been successful in doing so.

To his credit, Riley has tried to soothe the emotions of Oklahoma fans. Right now, there is almost nothing he can say to do so. Remarks like this will probably just make it worse for the time being, whatever the rationale might be.

Photo: Nov 29, 2021; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lincoln Riley poses with Fight on sign during a press conference to introduce Riley as Southern California Trojans head coach. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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