High Expectations For Lincoln Riley
We find ourselves in the middle of another Trojans’ spring practice, but this year’s expectations are nothing short of perfection. Lincoln Riley’s addition creates a good reason to expect a huge culture change and a new vision for this team, but what is a realistic prediction?
When we look back through the years, USC is no stranger to coaching changes. Some are more successful than others, but overall a majority through the last 50 years had a winning record of at least .650.
Yes, there are, of course, some outliers that didn’t exactly pan out like the Lane Kiffin experiment or Steve Sarkisian‘s less than stellar tenure.
Looking back, there’s no doubt Pete Carroll was the last successful hire, coaching the team for at least 6 seasons since John Robinson back in 1976. Both Carroll and Robinson weren’t projected to completely turn these programs around in a such short time. John Robinson was the offensive coordinator for SC for 2 years before going to the NFL as a running backs coach. While Pete Carroll bounced around from 1977 to 1999 as a coordinator for six different teams and a head coach for two NFL teams.
No coach coming into the head coaching job for the USC Trojans has had as much success in college football as Lincoln Riley. Riley had been an offensive assistant and receivers coach for Texas Tech before becoming the offensive coordinator and QB coach for East Carolina. Then, in 2015 he made a lateral move by taking the job as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before becoming head coach of the Sooners in 2017.
Riley did not have any experience in the NFL but certainly had more than enough time to absorb how to run a more than effective offensive scheme. Lincoln Riley’s coaching record is 55-10. This is on pace to be a top 20 coach in win percentage in college football history.
One narrative that will not leave Riley’s side is his struggles in the “postseason”. Lincoln Riley had won 4 consecutive Big 12 championships but when you don’t lose more than 2 games a season expectations were shifted to making the championship. Riley and the Sooners only had one playoff berth in 2017 where they lost to the Georgia Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl.
However, with Riley’s Air Raid scheme, he has produced two Heisman Trophy winners with Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018. Not to mention, he nearly had three in a row with Jalen Hurts finishing second right behind Joe Burrow, who won in 2019.
Caleb Williams had taken the college football world by storm after coming in for the golden child Spencer Rattler in 2021 with the Sooners. With Rattler starting all of 2020 he was slated to come back for his redshirt sophomore year and really come into his own. However, when interceptions and accuracy became a problem, Williams came in during week 6 and the coaching staff never looked back. Caleb Williams threw for 1,900 yards, 21 touchdowns, and four interceptions in just six games. After a stressful and drawn-out transfer portal period, Caleb decided to follow his head coach to USC to repeat their success.
That quarterback and head coach chemistry will be an integral part of Riley’s potential success in sunny Southern California.