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Report: USC to Hire Lincoln Riley as Next Head Coach

The USC Trojans have reportedly found their next hire in Oklahoma Sooners mastermind Lincoln Riley.

When you're a school as prestigious as the USC Trojans, Rose Bowl appearances are expected on an annual basis. With the school's history and prestige essentially recruiting itself each cycle, there's always talent to compete in Southern California. 

Yet the program has struggled to find a strong presence at the helm of their team since Pete Carroll departed after 2009, going through head coaches such as Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Clay Helton with the latter becoming the most recent fired earlier in the season following a brutal home loss to Stanford. 

With the Trojans still in the market for a head coach, prominent names around the landscape of football were linked to such a monumental job. Penn State's James Franklin and Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars headlined a star-studded list to lead USC for the foreseeable future. 

However, according to reports, the Trojans have found their next man. 

Yahoo!'s Pete Thamel reported on Sunday that USC is closing in on hiring Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley. 

Entering this season, Riley, who has been with Oklahoma since 2017, had led the Sooners to a Big 12 title in every season since he first took over, as Oklahoma has played in a NY6 or College Football Playoff game in each season. 

However, 2021 wasn't the season anybody expected for the Sooners. Despite suffering only two losses, Oklahoma failed to reach the conference championship game for the first time under Riley's control. 

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Thanks to his offensive prowess as a play-designer and play-caller, Riley has garnered considerable talk in the past to depart for bigger opportunities. Rumors of him departing for the NFL were shut down in the past, with recent talks of him filling the job at LSU following Ed Orgeron's departure this season also not coming to fruition. 

"I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU,” said Riley over the weekend, shutting down any links between him and the Tigers.

However, Riley then reportedly informed his staff that he indeed would be leaving, selecting USC over LSU. 

Riley signed a $38.9 million extension last year that would have kept him under contract with Oklahoma through 2025-26. While the financial implications have yet to be released, reports of LSU's offer to Riley ranged between $12-13 million per season, with the USC contract expected to be in that same ballpark. 

Riley made just under $7 million in 2021 at Oklahoma.

Riley finishes with a career coaching record of 55-10 at Oklahoma, losing two games in each season. 

At this time, there has been no announcement for an interim coach at OU, although there are reports that former Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will step into that role.