Lincoln Riley calls landing USC job ‘surreal,’ says leaving Oklahoma was tough but ‘right thing’

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8:51 PM ET

  • Paolo UggettiESPN

All Lincoln Riley had to do was say of course, just take a 3-hour flight, improve the shade on his pink tie — from crimson to cardinal — and he was suddenly in sunny, 75-diploma late November weather, standing inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Monday afternoon becoming released as the 18th head mentor in USC football history.

“Wow, is this actual? Unbelievable,” Riley explained, turning about to get in the Los Angeles skyline on just one aspect, the Hollywood indicator on the other. “It’s a surreal minute, to be honest.”

The right away retain the services of of Riley away from Oklahoma that reverberated throughout the sport gave way to a celebratory shock Monday. Though Riley pinched himself, USC’s directors and electrical power brokers basked in the glory of a assertion use though remaining shocked they found them selves here in the initially location.

“It was never our target to transform the landscape of school football with just one of the major moves in the historical past of the game,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn reported. “But we did particularly that.”

Bohn’s assurance was palpable through the ceremony and afterward way too. He referred to as USC the “sleeping big” that had been awakened.

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At Oklahoma the past five seasons, Riley has helmed a workforce that is had a few School Soccer Playoff appearances, four Large-12 titles and 4 10-gain seasons, even though acquiring two Heisman-successful quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. USC, meanwhile, has failed to make the School Soccer Playoff, gained only one particular Pac-12 title and gone 33-23 in that span.

“We felt tension,” Bohn claimed, noting that his friends are often telling him that “when USC is fantastic, it is fantastic for school soccer.”

USC had been linked to many candidates since they fired Clay Helton again in Oct. But not as soon as had Riley’s identify arrive up. On Saturday night time, Riley was questioned about his name coming up in LSU coaching rumors. “I will not be the up coming head coach of LSU,” he said. USC, nevertheless, was a different tale.

“It was tough to go away the location I remaining,” Riley explained when questioned about Oklahoma. “But at the exact same time, I understood this was the correct matter.” When asked afterwards about the sentiment that Riley still left Oklahoma because of their impending transfer to the SEC, Riley mentioned it had “zero impact” on his decision.

“People today are going to say what they’re going to say,” he said.

To listen to Riley, Bohn and USC’s main of staff Brandon Sosna tell it, the course of action to employ Riley was a substantial-wire act that involved months of perform, a number of consultants, above a dozen vetted candidates, approximately 400 webpages of knowledge and a 50-slide presentation that USC confirmed to essential influencers as component of their lookup method.

It all culminated on Saturday evening, as Sosna paced within a suite at the USC-BYU recreation whilst the Oklahoma-Oklahoma Point out game was on just one of the screens. As the final result of the match went down to the wire, they understood that it could swing Riley’s choice or at the pretty the very least hold off it.

“It arrived together quickly. But to be genuine, in this day and age, in school soccer, it kind of has to,” Riley claimed. In accordance to him, USC achieved out Sunday morning with real interest and they ended up able to leap on a Zoom connect with where they made their final pitch to Riley. In just a handful of hours, the go was designed official.

“All the things intrigued me,” Riley stated. “The site, the historical past of the software, the opportunities listed here to recruit, to make a national championship amount roster. The opportunity for my family to reside in a new place.”

In his news conference Monday, Riley also announced that Oklahoma’s Alex Grinch will be the new USC defensive coordinator, even though Clark Stroud, Denis Simmons, and Benny Wiley will think the director of football operations, wide receivers mentor and head power mentor, respectively.

“These men acquired on a aircraft with me this morning with no a agreement,” Riley said.

When Bohn refused to get into deal specifics, he did say that the economic commitments “contain a aggressive spirit” that matches Riley’s. “We have an understanding of the competitive mother nature of what is likely on in the market,” Bohn claimed. Riley, for his section, mentioned the alignment USC exhibited and the assist he obtained made the decision simpler for him.

Even although USC has one video game still left in its period — a postponed matchup against Cal Saturday that will be coached by interim Donte Williams — Riley explained he’ll get to work in the shadows on recruiting proper away with early signing day a several weeks absent. Quite a few 5-star Oklahoma commits with West Coast ties have by now decommitted from the Sooners in the previous several days.

“We strategy on creating the most effective roster in the region, and inside of that locker room, the best tradition in the region,” Riley stated. “[The Coliseum] is gonna be whole. This will be the Mecca of school football.”