When Lincoln Riley took the head coaching job with the USC football program, the No. 1 question was immediately regarding how quickly Riley could build USC back into a juggernaut. A high majority of college football analysts were certain that Riley could bring USC 'back' eventually, but many disagreed over how quickly he could do it.
Could Riley bring the Trojans back to national contention in Year 1? Would it take a year? Would it take another year after that, with contention beginning in 2024? How does one measure how far away a 4-8 USC team is to returning to glory? Riley answered that at Pac-12 Media Day.
When he was asked "What is your expectation for this year?", Riley responded with a simple answer: "To win the championship." Lofty goals, but it's hard to fault a coach at a blueblood for ever giving that answer.
USC Football Head Coach Lincoln Riley is refusing to make excuses as he comes into this season.
USC football's new Head Coach Lincoln Riley has many reasons as to why this team shouldn't have National Championship expectations. This is his first year with the squad. He's inheriting a 4-8 team.
He's inheriting an administration that's been suspect since the end of the Pete Carroll era, even in the three seasons where they competed for a National Title since that era (2011, 2016, and 2017).
All of this has created lots of cultural issues that are going to be tough to fix in just one year, but Riley doesn't care. Expectations don't phase him one bit.
"I don't think (the expectations are) too much," said Riley. "I don't. I believe in what we're doing. I believe in what we're teaching. I believe in the people that we have in there."
Riley clearly is taking this job even more seriously than many fans are. Many fans aren't expecting a championship from their own team, but Riley has his own vision.
"Not my place to say whether (the expectations are) fair or not. Like I said in my opening press conference, before even one of these players had come in, I mean, you don't come to USC and you don't come to Los Angeles to do things small. You got to set your sights big."- Lincoln Riley, USC Football Head Coach
Well, can't argue there. USC certainly has their sights set on giant feats in these next several years. Riley, though, is so aggressive that he wants it done not in the next few years--but next year. He sees no reason as to why he can't accomplish his goals as early as he wants.
"This is one of those places," said Riley. "This is one of those programs. Frankly, this is one of those cities that if you do it well here, the sky's the absolute limit. I believe it's there for our football team."