This was USC football's biggest offseason mistake

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

USC football had one heck of an offseason. Not only did they secure one of the top five best head coaches in America (Lincoln Riley), but they flipped the roster to a tune of bringing in two five-star transfers and five four-star transfers.

One of the five-stars (Caleb Williams) is even considered to be the most highly-anticipated transfer in college football history. All these transfers made for the most unique offseason in college football history. Nobody has built a roster quite like how Riley has built this one for 2022.

The reason Riley built the roster this way is because he was signed on to the team after the season ended, and most high school recruits were already committed and/or set on where they were going. The most efficient way to roster build was to build through the transfer portal.

Still, though, Riley bolted USC's high school recruiting class from outside the top 100 to No. 70. No. 70 is still terrible, right? Well, not exactly.

It is terrible, but not within the context of the reality that Riley went from outside the top 100 of the overall recruiting rankings to No. 6(!) when it comes to the overall recruiting rankings (recruits + transfers). The roster looks great coming into the season.

That being said, it could look better if it weren't for USC football's biggest offseason mistake.

USC football's biggest offseason mistake was not bringing in Josh Conerly Jr. Conerly, a five-star Offensive Tackle who was the No. 2 OT in the nation for '22, would have been a massive get for USC's 2022 recruiting class. When Conerly postponed his signing date, there began to be more and more talk of him coming to USC.

Eventually, he was expected by a very solid majority of analysts to be heading to the Trojans.

When he decided to turn USC down for an Oregon program that just hired a defensive-minded coach, it revealed that it's possible that USC wasn't missing out on offensive line recruits to Oregon in the past just due to Mario Cristobal having such a strong offensive line pedigree.

It clearly could be "Uncle Phil," and all that he does for the program with Nike. And in this day and age, it could be Oregon's NIL collective, which could take their relationship with Nike to another level. NIL opportunities are going to be potentially plentiful at a program with such a strong relationship to Nike like that.

Contrary to (at times) popular belief, USC doesn't have an NIL collective. Perhaps they're going to need one to compete with programs that have them. It's also possible, though, that USC will be fine either way.

After all, their recruiting class for 2023 is much higher than Oregon's 21st-ranked class. SC's is ranked No. 13. (All recruiting ratings and rankings in article are as of 247Sports.)

One thing IS for sure, though, and that's the fact that the Trojans do need to pick up their efforts in offensive line recruiting--no matter what it is that they struggled with when it comes to Conerly.

After all, if they did land Conerly, they would be adding the No. 16 overall 2022 prospect to an offensive line that returns four starters from last year's line--which was rated No. 1 in the country by PFF. It would have been massive, and would have picked up a lot of momentum on the recruiting trail for SC.

Is it the end of the world? No, certainly not. Again, USC did have a tackle spot open, but they used the portal already to snag ACC Honorable Mention Bobby Haskins. He'd likely start over Conerly anyway at Left Tackle. Right Tackle is where Conerly would have a better chance to start.

And USC will be fine at Right Tackle. Courtland Ford has his starting experience, and proved to be capable of getting the job done last year. Not to mention, his athleticism makes for a great fit in this new offense SC is going to be running with Lincoln Riley.

Next. Ranking Caleb Williams among Pac-12 QBs. dark

USC will survive not being able to land Conerly, but it would have made for at least impressive depth on the exterior offensive line, and would have made quite the statement on the recruiting trail.