Of all the wins that USC football had this past offseason, the No. 1 victory has to be the one that started it all: The hiring of Lincoln Riley. It was the best hire in program history. Not one hire in USC football history has received better reviews than this one.
For instance, as great as Pete Carroll was for USC, he was FAR from the Trojans' first choice. He ended up proving to be a top two head coach in USC history, but he was NOT considered anywhere close to the best hire when it happened.
And Riley has backed it up so far, even without even playing a game yet. Riley has taken a team that went 4-8 last season to many top four's of preseason rankings. He inherited an overall recruiting class outside the top 100 when he was hired, and brought it all the way up to No. 6(!) in the entire country.
Remember that Lincoln Riley has USC football on this rapid rise despite not even getting here until after the season.
For Lincoln Riley to be able to do this after not even getting over to the USC football program until after his Oklahoma season was over is remarkable. He's done all that he's done at such a quick pace.
He's even gotten going on a solid start to the 2023 recruiting class as well. SC is currently ranked No. 13 in the nation in 2023 recruiting, with a commanding first-place lead in the Pac-12 (all recruiting ratings and rankings in article are as of 247Sports). It's not just the roster, though.
Riley also made many great decisions on how to build his coaching staff. One of his most notable moves was bringing Dennis Simmons--one of the best recruiters in all of football--with him as USC's Assistant Head Coach, Outside Wide Receivers Coach, and Offensive Passing Game Coordinator.
Another one of his most notable moves was retaining 2021 USC Interim Head Coach Donte Williams--another one of the best recruiters in all of football--with him as his Defensive Backs Coach and Defensive Passing Game Coordinator.
Riley has energized the program to the point where they are finally going to be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten--a conference that will finally let USC make the money they deserve and feed their conference.
This program went from 4-8 with a recruiting class outside the top 100, to a program some even expect to make the College Football Playoff. A program that bagged two five-star transfers, including the most highly-anticipated transfer in college football history.
A program that acquired five more four-star transfers. A program that got a 2022 five-star recruit to flip, a 2022 four-star recruit to flip, a 2023 four-star recruit to flip, and a 2023 five-star recruit to flip.
A program that is now off to arguably the best conference in football. A program who's done all of this because Riley made it possible.