Lincoln Riley is jumping from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 in a coaching move that has shaken up the college football landscape.
The 38-year-old is leaving Oklahoma University after a five-year run to be named the University of Southern California's next head coach, USC announced Sunday.
At USC, Riley replaces Clay Helton, who was fired in September after a 1-1 start to the season, and interim HC Donte Williams. Helton had been at USC since 2010, taking over as interim HC in 2013 and 2015 before being named head coach before the 2016 season. Helton left USC with a 46-24 record. The Trojans are 4-7 this year with one game left to play.
Riley took over for Oklahoma legend Bob Stoops ahead of the 2017 season and led the Sooners to three Big 12 titles in five seasons and four New Year's Six bowl appearances; Oklahoma (10-2) lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday and is not expected to make a New Year's Six bowl this season.
Perennially one of the hottest coaching candidates at the collegiate and professional level each offseason, Riley is finally making the jump to a new locale after going 55-10 in Norman. He leaves behind at Oklahoma a legacy of sustaining the winning tradition cemented by Stoops and coaching two of the last four No. 1 overall picks (Baker Mayfield, 2017; Kyler Murray, 2018); along with Jalen Hurts, Riley's starting QB in 2019, all three QBs are currently starters in the NFL. Riley also leaves Oklahoma just as the school is slated to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in the coming years.
Riley's top task, as he joins the Pac-12 after years in the middle of the country, is to keep quarterback talent in-state after USC watched local recruits D.J. Uiagalelei (Clemson), Bryce Young (Alabama) and Matt Corral (Ole Miss) leave SoCal in recent recruiting campaign. After years of seeing top regional talent choose schools with a more recent winning pedigree or a name-brand coach, USC hopes it can retain its local players thanks to Riley's reputation and translate that into a program renewal.