Report: Lincoln Riley, USC Spent Two Years Trying to Get Out of Playing LSU in 2024

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California

In the moments following Oklahoma’s 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State in 2021, then-head coach Lincoln Riley was asked about the rumors that he might be linked to the LSU job.

“I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU,” he told the media in the postgame press conference. Then, as the story goes, Riley would accept the job at USC just a few hours later, and the rest is history.

As it turns out, Riley was not only not willing to coach at LSU, but he also apparently didn’t want to play them.


According to a report from Saturday Down South’s Matt Hayes, USC tried for nearly two years to avoid playing LSU in Las Vegas to open the 2024 season because Riley didn’t want to the game.

There’s soft, then there is Charmin Ultra Soft, but USC’s head coach is teetering on an entirely new level here. The Trojans were trying as recently as last fall, per Hayes, to get out of the game and were even offering replacement opponents to the Tigers. He then says that FOX Sports even got involved at one point and tried to help dissolve the game, with ESPN having the rights to the game.

“They weren’t getting out of the game,” a source told SDS.


Hayes goes on to say that Riley asked his agent, Trace Armstrong, who also represents Brian Kelly, for help changing Kelly’s mind about the game.

Both the Trojans and the Tigers are set to earn $5 million from the Las Vegas Bowl for playing in the game, but even an incentive of that size isn’t enough for Lincoln Riley to risk having his doors blown off by an SEC school again.

So, the game—which was scheduled just months before Riley was hired—will go on as scheduled on September 1, 2024.

LSU is currently favored by 6.5 points over USC in the neutral-site matchup.

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