Lincoln Riley Is a Virtual Lock to Succeed at USC

Brian Bahr is a photographer.

It didn't feel real when the announcement was so sudden. It couldn't be. It took only a few hours after Lincoln Riley was officially named the next head coach at USC for the potential to start to take shape.
The Sooners' recruiting class came undone with a lot of decommitments. We shouldn't have been surprised by what Riley meant to that offense.
Malachi Nelson, the second-ranked quarterback in the country, quickly decommitted. Nelson is a star at Los Alamitos High School. That last part is important.
Brandon Inniss decommitted from the class. One of the best running backs at his position was also present. Kobie is a linebacker. And others.

The stability in the coaching staff and their ability to develop the quarterback position was one of the things that attracted me most to OU, other than the rich history and amazing fans.

Riley has a chance to succeed in his new home. USC, a program that has been seemingly lost at sea after such a dominant run, should be incredibly optimistic about a potential revival.

The pressure will be huge. Any success less than massive will be considered a failure.
Winning will not be good enough. USC needs to win at the level it has before.
Since 2008, it has only done one thing: win the Pac-12.

It has never done anything like making the College Football Playoff.

Riley has not been able to win playoff games in recent years.

The Associated Press's Alonzo Adams.

USC has the infrastructure to accomplish those goals. It makes the recent stretch of lackluster seasons more puzzling. The facilities are good. The history is excellent. Despite the recent run, the location and brand loyalty still mean something.
Everything is in place for the USC to be a dominant force on a national level, they just needed the right person to do it. Riley is the right person.
There is a simple reality to this. Winning football games is not easy. There is a clearly defined path to get there.
Kirby Smart knows what he needs to do. Since arriving in Athens, the head coach of the nation's best football team has assembled a number of incredible recruiting classes. When asked about the importance of recruiting, Georgia's head coach didn't mention his dazzling philosophies or secret sauce.
Smart said there was no coach that could out-coach recruiting. No coach will out-coach players. Our defense is good because we have good players.

Imagine if Alabama quarterback Bryce Young gave the ball to Bijan Robinson, who was the favorite to win the Heisman. USC's reality this past season and the one to follow could have been that.
Young fell in love with the school at a young age. Robinson loved watching Reggie Bush when he was a child. He was interested in the USC ever since.
The USC program's inconsistencies have led to a growing trend of players straying from the program. The inability of the USC to dominate recruiting in the state of California in recent years is troubling.

In the 2020 recruiting cycle, USC only got two of the 40 best players in the state of California. That isn't a recipe for long-term success. Young and D.J. Uiagalelei left the state to play football elsewhere.

That has changed now. It doesn't matter that Riley doesn't have any high school coaching ties. He will.
His reputation on offense should make it easy. He's coached quarterbacks. He sent a lot of skill talent to the league. He's made an impact in a short period of time that will be too attractive for gifted high school students to turn down.

Brian Bahr is a photographer.

Oklahoma's recruiting was very good. Riley has a chance to make a huge impact at USC if things go well.

He doesn't have to sell what his arrival means. That should sell itself well. A movement will begin around California high schools this week. This large splash will be felt outside the state.
Riley will inherit a true freshman quarterback, Jaxson Dart, a former 4-star recruit who has shown promise early on.

One of the most turbulent times was when Dart committed to USC. Riley just secured one of the largest contracts a coach in the sport has ever been gifted, and Dart might benefit more than anyone.
Having a young, gifted quarterback already on the roster is a wonderful perk for Riley, who will now look to add pieces around the player. The USC will likely get a lot of looks from college athletes in search of change because of new transfer rules and a robust transfer portal.
It took seven years for Jim Harbaugh to get a true breakthrough in his career. That breakthrough might not happen at Nebraska for Scott Frost. We will know soon enough. Things can go sideways very quickly for Steve Sarkisian, who started the year with such promise at Texas.
When it comes to hiring a football coach, there are no easy answers. Riley just signed a contract that guarantees money, which is significant.

This is the closest thing we've seen to a certainty. Riley is taking his mind to Los Angeles. That will help.
The talent and pieces necessary for USC to win at the level it once normalized are destined to follow.