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#pounditSunday, January 16, 2022

Articles tagged: Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley adds another ex-Oklahoma star at USC

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

Lincoln Riley continues to work the transfer portal to bring talent he knows well to USC.

Wide receiver Mario Williams, who played for Riley in 2021 at Oklahoma, announced Saturday that he will transfer to USC. The announcement was accompanied by a social media video of Williams posing in front of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Williams made an impact as a true freshman in 2021, catching 35 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. A highly-touted recruit out of high school, his move to the Trojans will add further depth and talent to a rapidly improving roster.

There’s no reason to believe Riley is done working the transfer portal to bring in talent. In fact, there is some reason to believe the biggest name may be yet to come.

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

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

Lincoln Riley has message for Oklahoma fans sore about his move

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

The University of Oklahoma, Sooners players and their legions of fans are not exactly thrilled with Lincoln Riley. And why would they be following his abrupt departure to USC?

Things have gotten so sour that Senator Bill Coleman of Ponca City even proposed a bill this week that would rename a desolate section of State Highway 325 to the “Lincoln Riley Highway.”

“I felt the State of Oklahoma needed an appropriate goodbye to this former head coach whose sudden departure left many in shock, including a team of young, dedicated college players,” Coleman said in a news release. “I found the tiniest section of our most desolate of highways to pay tribute to Coach Riley’s exit from Oklahoma football and the state. This is only fitting as this is the last three inches one sees before leaving our great state heading west.”

Riley has heard it all and he’s seen it all. It hasn’t stopped him from poaching recruits from Oklahoma, but he remains hopeful that someday bygones will be bygones.

“I hope time will heal that, I really do,” Riley said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “I understand they’re disappointed that we left. [There’s] a lot of love for that place. Me and my family poured our heart and soul into that place for seven years. Loved every second of it. Had a tremendous run of championships, success on and off the field. We’ve got nothing but love.

“These things, when you leave a university, they either fire you or you leave on your own accord and neither one of them are easy and we understand it. Our love for that place will never go away. We certainly hope as time goes on, the time over there will be remembered fondly and everybody will remember all the great success we had together.”

Riley’s plea will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. At least for now.

Interim Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has said he didn’t take Riley’s exit personally and fans shouldn’t, either. That, of course, is easier said than done despite Riley going 55-10 over five seasons with the Sooners, winning four Big 12 championships and advancing to the College Football Playoffs three times.

They say time heals all wounds, but Riley bailing may take a few extra years to get over for some.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley is subject of brutal proposal by Oklahoma lawmaker

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

The Oklahoma Sooners have moved on and named a new football coach after Lincoln Riley’s abrupt departure for USC. Some, however, still want to take one more parting shot at the former coach.

That includes Oklahoma state senator Bill Coleman of Ponca City. On Tuesday, Coleman proposed renaming a three-inch stretch of state highway the “Lincoln Riley Highway.” The kicker? The proposal covers the last three inches of the westbound lane of State Highway 325, which crosses the border into New Mexico.

“I felt the State of Oklahoma needed an appropriate goodbye to this former head coach whose sudden departure left many in shock, including a team of young, dedicated college players,” Coleman said in a news release, via Mark Schlabach of ESPN. “I found the tiniest section of our most desolate of highways to pay tribute to Coach Riley’s exit from Oklahoma football and the state. This is only fitting as this is the last three inches one sees before leaving our great state heading west.”

It’s not clear how seriously the bill will be considered, if it will be at all. It’s definitely an indication of how many in Oklahoma feel about Riley’s exit, including some of his former players.

Don’t expect Riley to lose much sleep over this. He’s already building a potential contender at USC, and he’s doing it at the Sooners’ expense. That just makes the departure even more bitter.

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

Lincoln Riley gets third top recruit to flip from Oklahoma to USC

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

One of the reasons the USC Trojans targeted Lincoln Riley as head coach is because he’ll be able to recruit with the heavyweights and attract top talent to the school. So far, Riley is delivering.

Wide receiver Makai Lemon, a five-star recruit in the class of 2023, announced Friday that he would decommit from Oklahoma and follow Riley to USC.

Lemon becomes the third five-star recruit to flip from Oklahoma to USC since Riley’s hiring. 2022 four-star running back Raleek Brown announced Thursday that he would also attend USC, while standout 2023 quarterback prospect Malachi Nelson became the first to make the switch on Tuesday after widespread speculation that he would do so.

Notably, all three players play their high school football in Southern California. Riley had initially succeeded in luring them out of state, then kept them from leaving California after taking the USC job. This is significant, as one of the major criticisms of some of Riley’s predecessors at USC was their inability to keep elite high school players from leaving the state. If Riley can continue to secure commitments from players in the talent-rich region, USC will be nationally relevant again very quickly.

There had been talk that Riley might be able to flip top 2023 wide receiver prospect DeAndre Moore, another Southern California-based recruit who had committed to Oklahoma. Moore has so far made clear, however, that he intends to honor his commitment to the Sooners.

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

Oklahoma players call out Lincoln Riley over USC quote

Lincoln Riley does Fight On sign

A few Oklahoma Sooners players called out Lincoln Riley via Instagram over a quote the coach offered about USC.

Riley was Oklahoma’s head coach from 2017-2021 and coached the Sooners to a heartbreaking loss in their Bedlam game against rival Oklahoma State on Saturday. Hours later, he was negotiating with USC to become their next head coach. You can see how that would be troubling to many of the Sooners players.

On Monday, Riley was introduced by USC as their next head coach. The Trojans’ football account on Instagram promoted the hiring with numerous graphics and postings. One post included a quote from Riley in which he declared, “this is going to be the mecca of college football.”

That quote, which USC Football’s Instagram page promoted, bothered some Sooners players.

Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas called out Riley for being a snake, saying in a comment on USC’s post that the coach “told us that last week.”

Linebacker Nik Bonitto also replied to the post with a comment. He said “LOL,” which is an acronym for “laughing out loud,” likely because he thought the comment was B.S.

The anger from the Oklahoma players is completely understandable. They likely feel abandoned by their coach, and a report details how blindsided they were. As for Riley, maybe he feels his comment about the “mecca of college football” is less about the school where he’s coaching, and more about where he is coaching.

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

Lincoln Riley shares timeline of his decision to leave Oklahoma for USC

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

Lincoln Riley stunned the college football world this week when he left Oklahoma for USC, and the coach insists the opportunity came together as quickly as it appears.

Riley shed some light on his decision to take the USC job during a Tuesday appearance on “The Herd w/ Colin Cowherd.” He said the move is something that was “very sudden” and that he was genuinely committed to Oklahoma before the Trojans approached him.

“It was very sudden. I was totally committed to our team as we made a championship and playoff run,” Riley said. “I made that very clear to anybody that was interested.

“We got to Norman late Saturday night/early Sunday morning and had a conversation that USC had some serious interest. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up and had a conversation with the USC people, and you could feel their energy. You could feel that the leadership from the very top is willing to do the things that maybe haven’t been done here as of recent to get USC to where it needs to be.”

A lot of people will find Riley’s timeline hard to believe. The USC job has been vacant since Clay Helton was fired in September. It is highly unlikely that the discussions between Riley and USC only began on Saturday night. Even Oklahoma’s president seemed frustrated with Riley over the way he handled his exit.

Of course, that is how things work in college football. Coaches are sometimes in positions where they can’t risk having information leak. That said, Riley may have also misled people by emphatically shooting down another rumor less than 24 hours before his Oklahoma departure.

There are always going to be hard feelings when a coach leaves one top program for another. Riley probably could have done some things differently, but avoiding that altogether is impossible.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma president called out for quote about Lincoln Riley exit

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

University of Oklahoma president Joe Harroz is hearing it for a comment he made Monday in response to coach Lincoln Riley’s abrupt departure.

Riley’s decision to leave for USC on Sunday took Oklahoma by surprise. Harroz voiced that frustration in a Monday press conference, admitting that “we would’ve liked more notice” from Riley on his decision.

Harroz got very little sympathy for this stance. Numerous people on social media, including several reporters and commentators, pointed out the perceived hypocrisy in Harroz’s statement stemming from the Sooners’ move to the SEC. The announcement that Oklahoma and Texas had been secretly negotiating with the SEC blindsided the rest of the Big 12 and left the future of the conference uncertain when the story broke in July.

No, the situations are not exactly comparable. That said, given the grief both Oklahoma and Texas got over their SEC move, nobody will be feeling sorry for the Sooners here. If anything, given how arrogant and shady they came across during the SEC affair, a lot of people will be enjoying this.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Report details how much Lincoln Riley blindsided Oklahoma in exit

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

Lincoln Riley’s decision to leave Oklahoma for USC stunned the college football world on Sunday. It turns out that those inside the Oklahoma program weren’t any more aware of what was coming than the public was.

A new report from Jason Kersey of The Athletic details how those around the Oklahoma program learned of Riley’s decision. Assistant coaches and players essentially found out at the same time as public did.

Staffers and players were described as “angry” and “shocked” not just by Riley’s departure, but the manner he left.

Riley apparently told his coaching staff that he was leaving for USC just before meeting with his players. All of this reportedly happened around the same time the news was publicly reported. The abruptness of Riley’s departure even left players unsure of whether they were practicing this week.

One staffer remarked that he “(didn’t) have a job right now.” Some around the program attributed Riley’s move to seeking an easier path to the College Football Playoff, which may become tougher for Oklahoma when they join the SEC.

Riley’s departure even caught local TV off-guard. Riley was scheduled to tape his weekly replay show on Sunday, but word did not come through until just before taping that the coach would be “delayed.” Riley ultimately didn’t show up at all for the taping.

There have been surprising coaching moves before, but few have been this shocking. Even the biggest hires usually have some sort of rumor associated with them. There was absolutely nothing linking Riley to USC. There was some chatter about him going to another school, but he firmly shot that down less than 24 hours before leaving.

The Sooners will now have to embark on a coaching search they clearly didn’t expect to have to undertake. Only one name has surfaced so far, and it seems pretty far-fetched.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

USC takes victory lap in announcing Lincoln Riley hire

Lincoln Riley in a hat and headset

The USC Trojans are taking a well-deserved victory lap in their announcement of the hire of Lincoln Riley as head coach.

USC officially confirmed the Riley hire on Sunday night, shocking the college football world by hiring him away from Oklahoma. The football team’s Twitter account opened the announcement with quite the pronunciation: “We got our guy.”

USC athletic director Mike Bohn released his own statement accompanying the announcement. Bohn dedicated the hire to current and former players and supporters, and made an even more authoritative remark: “Our time is now.”

These aren’t normal statements that accompany a coaching hire, but USC knows it has hit a home run. Riley is one of the game’s hottest coaches. Any school that thought it could get him would have tried. The fact that USC, a program that has struggled in recent years, pulled it off is really remarkable.

One thing is clear: USC does not plan on this being a lengthy rebuild. They have reason to be confident that it won’t be. After all, there is already talk about some stars following Riley to LA.

Photo: Photo: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports