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USC To Hire Lincoln Riley As Head Coach

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The University of Southern California has found a new head football coach.

Oklahoma v Baylor
WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Lincoln Riley of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts after the Sooners scored a touchdown against the Baylor Bears in the first half at McLane Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Lincoln Riley, most recently head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, has informed his now former coaching staff at Oklahoma that he will be the new head coach for the Trojans heading into the 2022-2023 season.

Despite the flood of reports from a variety of reliable sports sources, USC took a couple of hours to confirm the move. They did however cancel a Zoom Meeting/Media Briefing with interim-Head Coach Donte Williams that was scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Riley addressed the move in a press release that was issued by USC on Sunday evening:

"I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach.  USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning.  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."

Riley took over the head coaching job at Oklahoma in 2017, but had been with the school since 2015 as Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

In his time as a head coach, he led the Sooners to four straight Big 12 Championships from 2017-2020 - 2021 is the first year that the Sooners failed to make the Championship game during his tenure.

Despite finishing the year 10-2, Oklahoma missed out on the title game thanks to losses to both Baylor (10-2) and Oklahoma State (11-1), the two teams that will in fact be matching up instead of the Sooners. His last year was marred by player personnel drama, mainly surrounding preseason Heisman-favorite turned backup quarterback Spencer Rattler.

He was 55-10 over those four years, but only managed a 1-3 record in four bowl games - those three losses all came in College Football Playoff bowl games as the Sooners sought a National Title. The Sooners did earn their one bowl game victory under Riley in 2020, crushing the Florida Gators in the Cotton Bowl, 55-20.

Riley did however coach two Heisman Trophy winners during his tenure in back-to-back seasons with Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018). In 2019, Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts also finished as runner-up for the Heisman.

In 2015, Riley was awarded the Broyles Award, given to the best assistant coach in college football. He was also named the AP Big 12 Coach of the Year and Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2018, the latter of which is selected by fellow head coaches in the conference.

Riley is set to become the 30th head coach in the storied USC football history.

The Trojans are in the midst of a 4-7 season with one game left to play. This is their second losing season in the last four years. They fired then Head Coach Clay Helton on September 13 and have been looking for a suitable replacement since.

Since 2010, USC has had issues holding onto a head coach for long. In that time they've had five different coaches. Lane Kiffin led the team from 2010 to the middle of the 2013 season when he was fired. Ed Orgeron, former Head Coach of the LSU Tigers finished the season off before resigning from the coaching staff when he was passed over for the full time position.

Instead, the Trojans hired Steve Sarkisian, who would only remain in that role for a season and a half, when he was terminated amidst a myriad of personal problems.

In his stead, USC would promote then offensive coordinator Clay Helton. He led the team from 2015 until just two games into the 2021 season, where he was fired following a 42-28 loss to Stanford. Helton was replaced by Williams for the remainder of the season.

Riley was not listed as a candidate for the job in reports over recent months, as the Trojans were often tied to names like Dave Aranda from Baylor, James Franklin of Penn State, Matt Campbell of Iowa State and Luke Fickell of Cincinnati.

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