Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley-USC Courtship Did Not Happen Overnight: Report

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley is the new head coach at USC, but it didn’t happen overnight, as the courtship between Riley’s representatives and USC reportedly lasted for three months.

J. Brady McCollough and Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times put together an extensive tick-tock of USC’s interest in luring Riley away from Oklahoma to take over the Trojans.

Riley resigned from Oklahoma on Sunday to take the USC job.


Riley was, almost from the beginning, the primary target of USC athletic director Mike Bohn, who fired Clay Helton two weeks into the season. Riley fit all of Bohn’s reported criteria for a replacement — someone with high-level credentials as a recruiter and an offensive coach.

The deal came together Sunday morning, just after the Sooners lost to Oklahoma State in the Bedlam game. But, the first conversation between Bohn and Riley’s representatives happened during the season, well before Saturday’s game.

But the loss to Oklahoma State seemed to accelerate the process.

McCullough and Kartje reported that Bohn made a pitch to Riley Saturday night, just hours after Bedlam, noting that Riley’s post-game press conference was at 9 p.m. central time.

It was so clear that Riley was the first choice that Bohn had two back-up plans, both of which involved Big 12 head coaches — Baylor’s Dave Aranda and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. That explains why, at various times, the pair were connected to the job in news reports.

In the first 24 hours since Riley announced his departure from Oklahoma, at least a half-dozen recruits have decommitted from the program, and quarterback Spencer Rattler has announced his entry into the transfer portal.

Riley touchdown down in Southern California on Monday to take his new job. Former Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will be the interim head coach for the bowl game. Former Oklahoma and current Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is considered the favorite to get the job via odds posted at Sportsline.com.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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