USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley was probably not like so many of the people reading this article were on Tuesday night. Many people reading this article were likely watching the College Football Playoff ranking selection show on Tuesday night, and eager to see just where the Trojans end up placing on the first CFP ranking. They ended up slotting in at No. 9.
Some may agree with it, some may disagree with it. Neither side is wrong, but Riley doesn't belong to either group. He spoke his true feelings about this version of the CFP ranking earlier in the day on Tuesday. Watch the full video below on Rivals' Ryan Young's tweet (all quotes in this article are credited to Young and his video post):
"It doesn't matter right now. It does not matter one bit. You go be ranked whatever, you go lose; it don't matter. You keep winning; it takes care of itself," said Riley.
The reality is, he's right. There has never been a one-loss Power 5 Champion to not make the College Football Playoff, when their one loss is to a ranked opponent. Therefore, if they "keep winning; it takes care of itself." He couldn't have said it better.
USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley has been in much worse spots than this and still made the College Football Playoff.
Lincoln Riley said that he talked to his USC Football squad about a situation he's been in that proves that the first CFP ranking truly does not matter when it comes to the big picture.
"I told the team this; We had a year where we lost a game in the middle of the year and we were ranked pretty high--that didn't matter," said Riley. "All of the sudden we were like, 19, with a few weeks left. 'Oh they got no shot for the Playoff.'...Five weeks later, we're in the Playoff. Like, it matters none."
It appears that he may be talking about his 2015 season with Oklahoma. That was his first year as the Offensive Coordinator there, and they made the Playoff. After their first loss of the season (their fifth game against unranked Texas), though, they were bumped down to No. 19. They won out, though, and ended up making the Playoff.
He may also be referring to 2017, in his first year as the head coach at OU, where he lost the fifth game of the season to an unranked team (Iowa State) too. They dropped to 12th after that. Sure enough, though, he ended up winning the rest of his games and heading to the College Football Playoff as a result.
Both those one-loss seasons had their one loss by seven points to an unranked team. It's interesting, because looking into it, that also means that Riley could be referring to 2019--where he lost by seven to an unranked Kansas State team in his eighth game of the season and dropped to No. 9. Once again, though, he won out and made the Playoff.
No. 9 is of course the same ranking SC debuted in the CFP ranking this year, after their eighth game. So, he speaks from experience: "You keep winning. It takes care of itself." Regardless of which season he was talking about, his career is hard evidence that it truly does not matter where a team is ranked in the first ranking drop.
"I spend not one percent of my energy, brainpower, or attention (to it)," said Riley. "I can not care less. I care about it one time; and that's the last one. That's all that matters."