When Lincoln Riley took a job upgrade to be the head coach for the USC football program, many armchair analysts randomly decided that it's because Riley is scared of the SEC.
It's obviously pretty funny, considering that Riley has had absolutely no issue with the decision to go to the SEC at all ever since the decision was made, and Oklahoma won't be going there this upcoming year anyway. If it's just the SEC that he's worried about, why wouldn't he stay at Oklahoma until--get this--OU goes to the SEC...
It's not like he wasn't killing it at Oklahoma, achieving his fifth straight top 10 finish in all five years he had with the Sooners in 2021.
"I heard the whole SEC narrative," Riley said in an interview with CBS Sports. "To me, the SEC has nothing to do with it. It's all about the program that you're at and the position you think you can get to."
And, the USC football program is a better program than Oklahoma.
Lincoln Riley is now with a USC football program that has FOUR more National Championships than Oklahoma (USC has 11), a program that has a bowl game winning percentage that's 69 points higher than Oklahoma (USC has a .642 bowl game winning percentage), a program that's developed an absurd 111 more NFL draft picks than Oklahoma (USC has developed 520), a program that's produced a whopping 35 more NFL first round draft picks than Oklahoma (USC has produced 84), and a program that has an insane TEN more Pro Football Hall of Famers than Oklahoma (USC has had 14 go on to the Hall of Fame).
USC has the better program, and as it was just proven--the history backs that. Besides, the last time SC had one of the best coaches in the country, they went on a seven-year streak of top four finishes. They went to three National Championships in that stretch and won two of them.
That's why it's funny that there's this narrative that Riley wouldn't be able to handle the SEC. The last time SC had that elite head coach (Pete Carroll), the Trojans used to schedule someone from the SEC almost every year within the first two weeks of the season. They beat down on the conference so bad, however, that the SEC began to refuse to schedule the Trojans.
In response, USC scheduled bluebloods Nebraska and Ohio State twice within the first two games of the year. They beat both of them both times, by the way. When USC has the right coach, nobody can stop them. Riley certainly is the right coach, as he's a consensus top five head coach in America. Of course he's going to go to the program who used to school the SEC when they had another top five coach. Riley said it best:
"I don't look at it like where I want to retire, trying to set up stability [at one place]," said Riley. "I'm 38. I want to experience different things. I want to win. This opportunity is so good, how can you not do it?"