The past couple of days have been electric for college football. First, Lincoln Riley shocked the world by leaving Oklahoma for USC. Then, Brian Kelly leaves South Bend to go to LSU. As for Riley, he's leaving a well-oiled machine in Norman for a program in dysfunction. However, that doesn't mean that Riley's tenure with the Trojans will be a disaster.
If you don't know already, Oklahoma is leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC in 2025 (possibly earlier) with Texas. That leaves a massive void in the Big 12, with the Sooners going to shark-infested waters. With powerful programs such as Alabama, Texas A&M, and Georgia, it'll be tough for Oklahoma and Texas to compete.
Compare that to the Pac-12, which absolutely sucks. The best program the conference has is Oregon, which is also the only program that believes in recruiting outside of their region and does it well. USC is a legendary college football program, boasting legends such as Lynn Swann, John McKay, and Reggie Bush. They've also fallen on hard times in recent years, resulting in disappointing seasons and a failure to lure in-state recruits.
Riley has a penchant for recruiting in the Golden State, pulling in recruits such as five-star pocket passer Malachi Nelson and wide receivers DeAndre Moore Jr. and Makai Lemon. All three stars came from Los Alamitos High School in Los Alamitos, California. Running back Raleek Brown is also from California, hailing from Santa Ana and the legendary Mater Dei High School. Brown has even stated that Riley going to USC "changes everything".
Riley's recruiting prowess in California is perfect in a conference that has failed to poach talent from the state. Many schools such as Washington, Washington State, and Utah have become regional programs, extending their reach as far as their state allows. Only Stanford and Oregon are trying to pull in recruits from California and beyond, with the latter becoming a success story. With the Trojans landing Riley, it gives the conference a legit powerhouse they've desperately needed.
The funny thing about this hire is that Oklahoma was that exact powerhouse in the Big 12. After getting the reins from legendary head coach Bob Stoops, the Sooners made the playoffs three times and had the highest winning percentage under Riley's tenure. Riley's 55 wins in his first five years with the Sooners is tied for third all-time in college football, only ranking behind Chris Petersen and Jimbo Fisher. On top of that, Oklahoma has won four Big 12 championships under his regime, making them the main powerhouse in the conference.
If you're wondering why Riley should be a success at USC, keep in mind that he's bringing his coaching staff with him. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch will improve a Trojan squad that was last in the conference in scoring defense (32.5 PPG) and 10th in total defense (420 yards).
USC athletic director Mike Bohn needed to hit a home run by hiring the right football coach. He needed someone who could recruit in-state and rebuild the program from the bottom up. Bohn has done that with Riley, giving the program credibility with recruits and the sports world alike.
Before Riley went to the Trojans, there were fervent rumors floating around about Urban Meyer going to USC. Given the former Buckeye head coach's lack of success in Jacksonville and organizational dysfunction, it was a strong possibility that Meyer would be one-and-done. However, Riley is just as good, if not better, than Meyer with his ability to coach in big games and recruiting prowess. Trojan fans should be excited for college football in the next three years.