Lincoln Riley made a calculated move to turn his back on Oklahoma for USC, but it could yield massive results

College football can’t help itself. No matter how healthy and Dear It can be that sometimes, there’s always a Sunday when a coach is at the peak of his career that can rock the industry with its typical multimillion-dollar, fan base. despair, shifting loyalty and the chance to rematch an entire convention.

Make that whole country.

Lincoln Riley did it with a wave – or whatever gesture he made – in USC . job acceptance Sunday. It was a shock wave from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Los Angeles with significant tremors still rumbling in Norman, Oklahoma.

Riley becomes the first Oklahoma coach to leave for another job College football the job since 1946. Every other Sooners coach since then has either retired, been fired or – in the case of Jim Mackenzie – died on the job. That is the definition of a destination gig.

Riley used Oklahoma as a stepping stone. It’s a necessary realization as Sooners heal their wounds and try to heal their wounded pride. But who can blame any 38-year-old – at the peak of his career with upward mobility prospects – for making such a calculated move? The difference is, in the real world with a hedge fund or giant real estate corporation, they have to give at least two weeks notice.

Riley looked around, assumed he had reached the top of Oklahoma in five seasons, and said goodbye less than 24 hours after he announced his allegiance. Sort. When Riley said after Saturday’s Bedlam game that he won’t go to LSU, no one considered whether that meant he could go elsewhere.

That was part of the shock. As long as Riley is at Norman, the Sooners will win the Big 12 title and challenge for the College Rugby Round. His continued excellence is a key reason Oklahoma feels great about the move to the SEC.

There is a palpable sense of betrayal. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione took the risk in 2017, elevating 33-year-old offensive dispatcher Bob Stoops to replace the legendary coach. He pays Riley well and provides him with the resources he needs.

But there would be no sympathy for the OU in this case, certainly in the Big 12 circle. Karma is a witch when you consider that Riley adapted the same secret process Oklahoma used when it jumped to the SEC. . The knife in the back can twist both ways.

One of the best coaches in the game made a calculated decision. So calculate that there may now be an explanation for why Riley mysteriously disappeared for “personal reasons” on day three of the Baylor game. Despite that, it is known that Riley spoke to USC mid-season while in pursuit of a seventh consecutive Big 12 title and a playoff spot.

Protocol in such situations has long been out the window. Riley ultimately made the choice between recruiting the California kids to beat the SEC teams – he had three commitments from the state in Rank 1 alone in 2023 – and recruiting in California to beat a Pac-12 team. That’s Oregon, the current level of a league that has dropped.

That must also be in Riley’s decision. If he gets the job done at USC, it will simply be easier to win than at Oklahoma or LSU. If Riley gets it right, recruiting within a 50-mile radius around LA will be easier than having to beat Texas and Texas A&M, now suddenly both SEC rivals, for Texas talent.

Those are big “ifs” – huge “ifs”, really. No one said any of that made any sense at all.

Riley looks out at the big picture and seizes the opportunity as well as a job. USC is not a certainty, but it is a new thing. Riley enters a show with considerable incentive to come back well.

The LSU must start automatically. AD Scott Woodward has apparently rolled out $100 million deals for the right fit coach to replace Ed Orgeron. Riley’s name has surfaced in speculation. Now, 42 days after Coach O was fired, LSU is the last of three top-level programs without a coach.

Money will be money no matter where Riley ends up. Mel Tucker recently ensured that every quality coach gets a raise following his $95 million deal with Michigan State. Riley chose her path of picking a suppressed 4-7 program having just fired her coach because of a program at LSU that won the national championship two years ago.

His decision is arguably the best news for the Pac-12 in the past 10 years. Great success of USC AD Mike Bohn, who took the absolute home run. The man now has Luke Fickell (in Cincinnati) and Riley on his resume. New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff could do the job for another 20 years and not get such a boost to his conference’s football fortunes.

The League suddenly has a proven, youthful commodity in charge of its flagship program. USC and, by extension, the Pac-12, are on their way to becoming relevant again. The last time something like this happened to both conference and school, former A.D. Mike Garrett is hiring his fifth pick at USC, Pete Carroll. How can it be solved?

Riley proved to be more of a college coach than Carroll at the time, and he took the job at a much younger age.

There’s something about the West Coast appeal. The Power Five to-Power Five’s final, biggest move could be Lane Kiffin’s departure from Tennessee after one season for… USC. Sure, Kiffin has a history with Trojans, but the problem is that this kind of big job hopping doesn’t happen often. At that time, USC usually participates.

The possibilities are endless. Did Riley bring Caleb Williams with him? Is there any transfer-palooza portal to leave the Sooners now that their trainer is gone?

Riley certainly considered all of this before taking her calculated action. It has transformed two football powerhouses, perhaps two games, and possibly, if all goes well, the national landscape of the sport. Lincoln Riley made a calculated move to turn his back on Oklahoma for USC, but it could yield massive results


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