Lincoln Riley brought USC Football from 4-8 last year before here got there, to 11-2 this year in his first season with the Trojans. Kalen DeBoer brought Washington Football from 4-8 last year before he got there, to 10-2 this year in his first year with the Huskies. It was not going to be fun to have to decide which one of these two great performances would win Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
When the Pac-12 announced that they had Co-Coaches of the Year, however, it became a lot easier. Both would take home the honor, and get recognized for what they did in their first years with their programs. Unfortunately, however, only one of them will. DeBoer was selected as one of the two Pac-12 Co-Coaches of the Year, but Riley was somehow snubbed for Oregon State's Jonathan Smith.
Riley was the best coach in the Pac-12 this year. He is the only coach to have a SEVEN-win improvement on the year in the conference. With all due respect to Smith, who is most certainly a good coach, he didn't have the type of turnaround that Riley did.
He did see a turnaround; going from 7-6 to 9-3, but obviously that's two less wins than Riley despite starting with a program that won seven the year before. He also is ranked just 14th in the country, while SC sits at No. 10 and is headed to the Cotton Bowl. The Beavers are headed to the Las Vegas Bowl after playing in the L.A. Bowl last year.
Lincoln Riley has USC Football headed to the Cotton Bowl after they were not even close to bowl-eligible in the year before he got to L.A.
And yes, the USC Football program is historically an exponentially better program than Oregon State, but that's not the USC Football program that Lincoln Riley inherited. He inherited the worst USC team in program history.
Riley is somehow being knocked for taking SC from an overall recruiting class from outside the Top 100 before he got here in late November to a Top 6 overall class when it was all said and done. Why should he be knocked for building a great class when he was put in little position to, with him coming in AFTER the season ended and just before early signing period.
He had more talent than OSU but he shouldn't be knocked for being such a great coach that he can acquire elite talent quickly, despite being thrown to the fire. He's a significantly better recruiter than Smith, and being a great recruiter is a massive part of coaching. Why is he getting snubbed for being better at roster-building than Smith?
Riley brought a program that hadn't been historically relevant in the past four years before Riley got to SC, and Riley brought them into national relevance in just this first year with the program. Oregon State is still not nationally relevant--in Smith's fifth year with the Beavs.
Not even DeBoer, who had a better year than Smith, had the turnaround that Riley had. And again, Riley shouldn't be bumped behind DeBoer for acquiring more talent in the short offseason time he had with SC than what DeBoer did in that short time.
But if there are going to be Co-Coaches of the Year, he beat Smith and should be one of the top two choices. The first choice, however, should be the one who also beat Smith (and beat him in Smith's house too), and had an even better year than DeBoer and his No. 12 Huskies.