Many USC football fans are unsure of what to think about this Trojans team coming into the 2022 season. Hiring Lincoln Riley was already a massive move that guarantees long-term success, and bringing in Caleb Williams will have a massive boon on the short-term success of the program in the beginning of the Riley era.
That being said, this team was 4-8 last year and had many cultural issues as well as some roster issues on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, the team wouldn't have gone 4-8, or anywhere close to 4-8, if they didn't fire the head coach after week 2 so they could sacrifice the season to make sure they secured a top five coach in America.
That being said, it was the right decision and the reality is that going 4-8 whether it was the right sacrifice for success in the long-term or not has an impact on the culture of a program. So, there's a lot of room for growth with this team. Brad Crawford of 247Sports, however, sees SC having strong success immediately.
Crawford has USC football in the Rose Bowl in Riley's first season with the program.
Crawford has USC football playing Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He has SC winning the Pac-12 and Michigan being the runner-up. Hey, it could happen. SC certainly will have the offense to win many shootouts next year, so their ceiling is high. He does admit that this is an optimistic pick for SC here, though.
While he made it clear that this is somewhat of a bold call, he did cite the Riley and Williams adds as two moves that could have SC relevant nationally early on in this new era. After all, the questions surround the defense, and while new DC Alex Grinch had a tough year last season, he had been a solid DC up until then. He had been making progress at Oklahoma after doing a great job at Ohio State. And for what it's worth, he certainly left the OU defense better than where it began (he inherited the No. 101 defense in the entire nation).
The potential is certainly there. The reality, though, could potentially be that SC needs time to fix the culture that was sorry ever since the Lane Kiffin days. We at least know that they'll be much-improved, however, and that Riley has already totally revamped our roster into what's probably the best one in the conference. Perhaps that leads to Crawford's spring prediction of SC being the best team in the conference for 2022.