Lincoln Riley introduced as football head coach

Lincoln Riley sits next to Athletic Director Mike Bohn at the introductory press conference.
Lincoln Riley sits next to Athletic Director Mike Bohn at Monday’s introductory press conference. Riley steps into the position of USC football head coach after a successful stint at Oklahoma. (Simon Park | Daily Trojan)

Lincoln Riley was officially announced as the next USC head football coach by Athletic Director Mike Bohn Sunday night. Riley served as the head football coach at Oklahoma from 2017 to 2021 and had a 55-10 record, including three College Football Playoff appearances in five seasons. 

“We are ecstatic to announce Lincoln Riley as our new head coach and welcome his wife Caitlin and their daughters Sloan and Stella to the Trojan Family,” Bohn said in a statement. “Lincoln is the rarest combination of extraordinary person and elite football coach. His successes and offensive accolades as a head coach the past five years are astonishing. Lincoln will recruit relentlessly, develop his players on and off the field, and implement a strong culture in which the program will operate with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.” 

In his first official USC press conference Monday afternoon, Riley noted the illustrious past of Trojan football and how that played into his decision to leave Oklahoma. He had high praise for the alumni attending the press conference and made it clear that he wanted them involved in the future. 

“The history of this program is as good as it gets in college football, period,” Riley said. “It’s because of the great players, the great coaches, the great administrators, so many people in the past. I want you to know that our doors will always be open. You are a part of us forever. We can’t do this without you guys and we’re certainly going to enlist you to help us build and recruit, and in return, we hope we can give you a program that you’re damn proud of.” 

USC will buy out the rest of Riley’s $38.9 million contract, an extension he signed in 2020 which was set to last through 2025. Riley will join a USC team with freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart serving as the team’s signal-caller after he replaced junior quarterback Kedon Slovis. 

Riley has experience developing young quarterbacks into star level talent, as he showed with Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray, all of whom were transfer quarterbacks to Oklahoma that thrived under Riley and made the NFL. Much like when Mayfield, Hurts and Murray transferred to Oklahoma, Dart is a young quarterback who will look to flourish under Riley. 

Riley will look to bring a spark to USC’s recruitment, as Oklahoma ranks No. 7 in the nation and first in the Big 12 for its 2022 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. USC is ranked No. 67 nationally and ninth in the Pac-12. 

“USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning,” Riley said in a statement. “I look forward to honoring that successful tradition and building on it. The pieces are in place for us to build the program back to where it should be and the fans expect it to be. We will work hard to develop a physical football team that is dominant on both lines of scrimmage, and has a dynamic balanced offense and a stout aggressive defense.”

Oklahoma’s Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch will join Riley’s staff at USC, according to ESPN. Grinch was a safeties coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 13-1 season in 2018. 

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Bill Bedenbaugh and Wide Receivers Coach Dennis Simmons are expected to follow Grinch to USC, per On3 Sports.

Reports from On3 Sports claim Riley informed his Oklahoma staff Sunday that he was leaving. Riley shut down questions about potential interest in LSU’s head coaching job Saturday, saying, “I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU.” 

The hire will mark a new era for USC. During Riley’s tenure with Oklahoma, USC went 33-23 under Clay Helton and lost both bowl games it attended during the time. Helton was dismissed this season after two games.

“This is a very special day,” USC President Carol Folt said Monday at the press conference. “I’ve had a wonderful time talking to so many people and watching the reaction on social media. I love it when they all say they were ‘surprised’ and ‘ecstatic.’ That’s a good day. That’s a lot of good days. We’re seeing all the Trojans come together.” 

This story was updated on Nov. 29 at 8:31 p.m. to reflect statements from USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn, USC Head Coach Lincoln Riley, USC President Carol Folt and updates on expected football staff members