Big 12 coaching shakeup: Lincoln Riley named new USC football head coach

Gold and Blue Nation

Oklahoma is now searching for a new head coach for its football program, as Lincoln Riley is headed West.

Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Lincoln Riley has coached his final game with the Oklahoma Sooners.

USC officially announced Sunday night that Riley will become the next head coach of the Trojans. He jumps from the top program in the Big 12 to the premier brand of the Pac-12.

After reports swirled throughout the day Sunday, USC released an official statement Sunday evening around 8 p.m. ET.

“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,” USC athletic director Matt 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.”

Riley coached the Sooners to a 55-10 record in his five years in charge of Oklahoma. The Sooners won Big 12 championships in each of his first four years as head coach, but failed earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship this season. Riley set program records for the most victories in his first two (24), three (36) and four (45) seasons with OU.

His final game with Oklahoma resulted in a 37-33 loss against rival Oklahoma State that kept the Sooners out of the conference title game for the first time since it was reinstated in 2017.

“I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach. USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning,” Riley said as part of the official statement from USC. “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. 

He added: “I want to thank the administration, coaches and players at Oklahoma for five incredible years as their head coach.  We accomplished some great things there and I will always cherish my time as a Sooner.” 

Riley will transition to his duties at USC immediately, according to both USC and other reports. It has also been reported that former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops will coach the Sooners in their upcoming bowl game.

Oklahoma and Texas both accepted invitations to join the SEC earlier this year. That departure from the Big 12 is set to take place in 2025.

This move not only leaves Oklahoma searching for a new head coach, but also relates to the SEC in that Riley had shut down rumors linking him to the head coaching vacancy at LSU moments after OU’s loss Saturday night in Stillwater.

Oklahoma is now one of three Big 12 football programs that will under go a coaching change. TCU and Texas Tech both fired their former head coaches during the regular season.

West Virginia has never defeated Oklahoma as a member of the Big 12.

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