Marking Lincoln Riley’s one-year anniversary at USC: remember the day

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It has been one year since Lincoln Riley was hired as the head coach for the USC Trojans.

A year ago, Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State in the Bedlam game, and rumors swirled in the days preceding that game about Riley potentially going to LSU. However, Sunday morning came, and a bombshell dropped that Riley was the new head coach at USC in a whirlwind series of events across college football.

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It seemed unreal, yet here we are. One year later, the Trojans have a Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback, a Pac-12 title game appearance, and a shot at the College Football Playoff.

It’s only been one year. Let’s recall what happened on November 28, 2021, and in the 24 hours after that explosive event which changed everything for USC:

BREAKING

BALANCE

THE MECCA

HE WAS RIGHT

MIKE BOHN WENT BIG

LIFE-CHANGING EVENT

Trojans transformed:

(h/t Antonio Morales and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic)

“I remember thinking at one point before we went to bed that night, you’re going to sleep for about an hour or two, get up and make a decision that’s going to change a lot of people’s whole worlds. Under that timeline, it was just kind of crazy being in it. That something that life-changing could happen that fast.”

LEAVING OKLAHOMA

MIKE BOHN STATEMENT

 

(h/t Brady McCollough and Ryan Kartje of The Los Angeles Times)

“Lincoln is universally considered one of the brightest and most talented football coaches in the nation, and the fact that he chose USC is a testament to the strength of our brand, the power of the Trojan Family and the leadership of our university,” Bohn said in a statement. “This is for our current players, our former players, our alumni, our fans, and our entire university community. Our time is now.”

RILEY’S STATEMENT

(h/t Brady McCollough and Ryan Kartje of The Los Angeles Times)

“USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning,” Riley said in a statement. “I look forward to honoring that successful tradition and building on it. The pieces are in place for us to build the program back to where it should be and the fans expect it to be. We will work hard to develop a physical football team that is dominant on both lines of scrimmage, and has a dynamic balanced offense and a stout aggressive defense.

TOUGH TO EXIT OKLAHOMA

(h/t Bruce Feldman, Antonio Morales, and Jason Kirksey of The Athletic)

“Leaving OU was probably the most difficult decision of my life. OU is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. That’s not going to change. … This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge, and I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that.”

TOUGH BUSINESS

(h/t Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire)

Oklahoma fans were obviously upset with Riley after his departure from Norman. That’s completely understandable, and contextually unique. OU fans were abandoned by Riley; their displeasure is legitimate because Riley broke up that relationship when he wasn’t expected to.

EXPOSURE

(h/t Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire)

ESPN has interviewed Riley several times, giving the USC football program a platform. New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff is maneuvering to make USC and other Pac-12 teams more visible in advance of new football media rights negotiations that are coming ever closer (next year, which is just one year away).

When one considers whether Riley will help the Pac-12 as a whole, not just USC, the media sphere is where one can find many reasons to support a positive outcome for the conference

WILNER

(h/t Jon Wilner of The Mercury News)

On Sunday, the Trojans ended the carousel. Not officially, of course. There are plenty of vacancies remaining. But for all intents and purposes, the comatose colossus at the corner of Figueroa and Exposition has awoken — and it just won the hiring cycle.

In fact, USC smacked a walk-off home run.

Assuming they touch home and dot the i’s with Lincoln Riley, the Trojans have hired a head coach who will instantly transform their program, the Pac-12 Conference and college football in the western third of the country.

MIKE BOHN HOME RUN

(h/t Zack Pearson of Trojans Wire)

It was Lincoln Riley, not Matt Campbell. What an incredible plot twist.

When Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State, Riley became available for contact. Had OU been in the Big 12 title game, this door would not have been open this soon.

Bohn was ready. He made his offer. He closed the sale.

HERBIE

ONE YEAR LATER, WE CAN ALL SEE WHY

SEISMIC

(h/t Chris Trevino of 247Sports)

The moves sends shockwaves throughout college football landscape, not only because it brings more power and credibility to a lagging Pac-12 conference and pushes USC back towards the national spotlight, but also because the hire came seemingly out of nowhere. 

The less taxing Pac-12 also gives Riley a much easier path to the College Football Playoff over the Big 12 and eventually the cut-throat SEC; Oklahoma and Texas were slated to joined the premier college football conference starting in 2025.

Riley will inherit a USC team – particularly on offense – that’s been depleted of high-end talent over the last few seasons.



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