July 15, 2024

Paul Finebaum Predicts Lincoln Riley’s Future at USC

Lincoln Riley came to Los Angeles with high expectations after leading Oklahoma to a 55-10 record over five seasons. However, the Trojans have underperformed, including a disappointing 8-5 season in 2023.

USC lost five of their last six regular-season games despite having one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. The team’s defensive struggles continued, ranking No. 121 nationally in scoring defense, a recurring issue for Riley’s teams. During an appearance on “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning,” ESPN’s Paul Finebaum criticized Riley’s performance as USC’s head coach and predicted Riley would not return after next season, a surprising claim given Riley’s long-term contract reportedly worth $110 million.

“It’s not a matter of wishing him bad luck out there,” Finebaum said. “That’s already happening. The number of players that are bailing on Lincoln Riley in Southern California is startling. I’ve always thought he was a really good coach, especially on the offensive side. But I don’t think anyone today views him in that same realm. Quite frankly, I think he’ll be out at Southern Cal at the end of the season.”

Riley has a 19-8 record over his first two seasons at USC, including a Pac-12 Championship appearance in 2022. The Trojans faced an embarrassing loss to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl that season, followed by a disappointing performance last season. In response, USC made several defensive changes, including hiring former UCLA defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn, who led a Bruins defense that ranked No. 11 nationally in total defense last season.

Lincoln Riley

“It’s a matter of whether it crashes and burns or whether he just decides he’s gotta seek elsewhere,” Finebaum continued. “I don’t think there’s any way he’s going to be successful out there. I think that train has pulled out of the station, and if indeed that happens, this is one of the most historic crash and burns in the history of modern college football.”

USC opens the 2024 season against LSU in the Vegas Kickoff Classic at Allegiant Stadium on Sept. 1, with kickoff scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT on ABC.

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