LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – USC is set to hold an introductory press conference Monday following the much-applauded hiring of its new head football coach, Lincoln Riley.
The 38-year-old Riley, who spent the last five seasons with Oklahoma, will look to turn around a program that has been mired in mediocrity over the past decade.
The hiring drew praise from several USC legends, including 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, and 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.
Riley’s move to USC has already had an impact on recruiting. Los Alamitos High School quarterback Malachi Nelson, the No. 3 ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300, announced on social media Sunday night that he was decommitting from Oklahoma “in light of the recent events and changes.”
Riley coached Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks each of his first two seasons as the Sooners’ coach — Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018. Riley was 55-10 in five seasons as the Sooners’ coach, including berths in the College Football Playoff in each of his first three seasons and Big 12 Conference championships in each of his first four.
Oklahoma (10-2), which entered the weekend ranked 10th in the nation, fell to Oklahoma State 37-33 Saturday. Former longtime Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was named interim head coach for the team’s upcoming bowl game.
Riley takes over a USC program that has won one Pac-12 Conference championship since Pete Carroll left following the 2009 season to coach the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
With a 4-7 record entering Saturday’s season finale against California, the Trojans are assured of their second losing season in four seasons and third in 22 seasons.
Riley replaces Clay Helton, who was fired Sept. 13, two days after a 42-28 loss to Stanford. USC went 46-24 in four seasons under Helton.
Donte Williams has served as interim coach since Helton’s firing. Williams will coach the team Saturday against the Golden Bears.
“USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning,” Riley said in the news release issued by USC announcing his hiring. “I look forward to honoring that successful tradition and building on it.
Riley called leaving Oklahoma after five seasons as coach following two as offensive coordinator “probably the most difficult decision of my life.”
“This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge and I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that,” Riley said in a statement released by the University of Oklahoma.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Riley was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles Monday morning.
USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said Riley “is the rarest combination of extraordinary person and elite football coach.”
USC President Carol L. Folt called Riley “the perfect choice for our new head coach.”
“He is known for caring about the development and character of his players and winning at the highest level,” Folt said in the news release. “Mike Bohn and I share a vision for the future of USC Athletics and hiring coach Riley is a huge statement about where we are going as a program.”
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