USC football is embarking on a unique Year 1 with a new head coach. They've never made as good of a hire as they have now with Lincoln Riley. They've had better coaches than Riley, but they've never made a HIRE as strong at the moment the hire was made than they did with Riley this offseason. And it's especially unique because USC is coming off of their worst year in program history.
They scored big-time in a year where they literally have never been worse. It goes to show how dominant this program is, even when they had fallen fully FLAT on their faces. But with a dominant program like SC comes dominant expectations, and it's not clear what's fair to ask of the new head coach in just his first year with the Trojans.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN recently took a stab at it, in his recent 'Predicting every college football Power 5 conference for the 2022 season' piece. He has SC going 10-2 on the season. Now that would be a very nice turnaround for the program in just the first year under a new regime. Heck, that's FOUR more wins than what even the great Pete Carroll got in his first year with USC.
Schlabach has USC football finishing with the same record as Utah.
That's encouraging for USC football, as Utah begins the season as the No. 7 team in the Preseason AP Top 25 Poll. The discouraging part is that he has USC taking one of their two losses to Utah in the regular season, and then in the postseason he has the Utes beating SC again. It's disappointing, but hard to blame him.
Utah does return plenty of production this season, most notably a good QB in Cam Rising and a great RB in Tavion Thomas to go along with plenty of returning defensive production. They have the second-best coach in the conference too in Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham trails Riley and nobody else. Coming off of a Pac-12 Championship last season, it's no travesty for USC to lose to them in the Pac title game in just the first year with a new head coach.
Besides, it's not like Schlabach doesn't have other positive predictions about SC. He selects Caleb Williams to be the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in his article, as well as Jordan Addison to be the 'Impact transfer.' He even has USC DC Alex Grinch as the 'Coordinator who will be a head coach,' will clearly goes to show that he believes Grinch will get the job done this year.
Will USC fans be GUNNING for that Pac-12 title if the Trojans get to the title game? Absolutely. Is it some sort of crime if USC takes the loss after going 10-2 in the regular season, though? Most certainly not. If a prediction like this comes true, it goes to show that SC is most definitely on schedule to returning to glory at a quick pace.