CBS Sports ranks USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley perfectly in top 25 HC list

Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports' College Football writer Tom Fornelli broke down his "top 25 Power Five college football coaches entering the 2022 season" last week, and he hit the nail on the head when ranking new USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley.

He rightfully had Riley above every single coach except for Alabama's Nick Saban (ranked first), Georgia's Kirby Smart (ranked second), and Clemson's Dabo Swinney (ranked third). Putting Riley at the fourth spot was perfect--Riley has earned this type of placement.

Winning the Big 12 in every single year he's been a head coach (five years) except for ONE down year in 2021 where he STILL finished with 11 wins and a top 10 ranking, Riley is the definition of consistency.

He took an Oklahoma program who missed the first three College Football Playoffs to trips to each of the next three College Football Playoffs when he took over. Riley dropped from Fornelli's ranking last year, but Fornelli addressed that it wasn't so much about the type of coach Riley is:

"Riley drops a spot from No. 3 to No. 4, but even that drop has more to do with Kirby Smart than Riley. After five seasons at Oklahoma, 2021 was the first time Riley failed to win the Big 12. He's gone 55-10 and reached the College Football Playoff three times. Few coaches in the sport can claim the same accomplishments, so there are few coaches ranked ahead of him here."

Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports

USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley will need to win a National Title if he wants to make sure he passes Smart again.

Due to Smart winning the Natty in 2021, USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley will likely need to win one of his own if he wants to catapult ahead of Smart again. That's also because Smart doesn't necessarily appear to be slowing down.

Riley lost to Smart in Double-OT of the first round of the College Football Playoff in the 2017-2018 season, so Smart was likely to jump over Riley after he also now has a National Championship on his mantel.

Riley has one more CFP appearance than Smart, and also has three more conference championships than him--despite being a head coach for a shorter time. That being said, the head-to-head Playoff win and National Championship warrant Smart's higher ranking.

It's just like why Swinney is right to be in that third spot, ahead of Riley as well. While Swinney had a down year this year, he has multiple National Championships. That's not to say that Riley can't build that resume himself--Swinney didn't win his first Natty until the eighth season of his Clemson career. Riley has time, but he simply just doesn't have that as of this moment.

As for Saban, he's of course still the best. It's hard to argue with that given his seven National Championships. He was there in the National Title game last year, showing that he's not done just yet. Every other coach on the list has a long way to go before they could make a claim to surpass Saban.

Next. USC Football Spring Ball Depth Chart. dark

Fornelli gave Riley a perfect ranking. It's very refreshing to see SC back to having an elite coach who is indeed a top four HC in America. SC hasn't had that since 2009, and they went on quite the nine-year run with that coach.