Lincoln Riley to bring elite QB back to USC in a hurry
Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC on Sunday in the biggest upheaval of the 2021 college football coaching carousel.
This is a home rental for a Trojans program which is in its fourth head coach since Pete Carroll left after the 2009 season. Riley is 55-10, three playoff appearances from college football and four conference championships.
It’s not even the best part. Riley will bring back the Heisman Trophy and National Championship level quarterback game to USC.
MORE: Why Did Riley Leave Oklahoma For USC?
Look at his record. Oklahoma have had back-to-back Heisman winners with Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018). Jalen Hurts (2019) finished second in the Heisman vote the following season. All three started in college football playoff games. All three are now starting in the NFL.
In their final seasons in Oklahoma, the trio averaged 4,209 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions. USC would take that production for sure.
Even Caleb Williams, who took over from the Sooners this year, was in the Heisman conversation despite not starting until mid-season. Williams will be among the favorites in 2022.
MORE: Oklahoma’s best rookies start jumping ship after Riley’s departure
Would it say to go into the transfer portal and follow Riley to USC? If it isn’t Williams, then would Spencer Rattler? Oklahoma has a verbal engagement from Malachi Nelson, the No. 2 quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class. Nelson plays in Los Alamitos, Calif. Would he now consider staying close to home?
It could be part of the Riley effect at USC. The Trojans must retain the best five-star quarterbacks on the West Coast. Bryce Young of Alabama (Mater Dei in Santa Ana), CJ Stroud of Ohio (Rancho Cucamonga) and Matt Corral of Ole Miss (Long Beach Poly in Long Beach), the three quarters most likely to be finalists in Heisman this season, all are from California.
Riley could help reverse that trend, and the impact on recruiting could put USC back in the domestic spotlight for all the right reasons. Riley’s offense has averaged 42.7 points per game in Oklahoma over the past five years; the Sooners, averaging 38.4 points per game in 2021, were considered a lean season.
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In Carroll’s heyday, the program revolved around Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer (2002) and Matt Leinart (2004) quarterbacks. Palmer attended Santa Margarita Catholic in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, while Leinart dated Mater Dei.
It’s the full-scale rental that not only USC but the Pac-12 have been waiting for. The conference has not been held at CFP since 2016. Trojans have a chance to reappear by recruiting with a proven winner. Riley has already proven that he can replace a legend in Bob Stoops.
MORE: Riley Was Honest About LSU’s Work After All
Now he can build his own legend in one of the blue blood programs of all time.
You can bet it will start under the center.