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USC Football: Lincoln Riley Shockingly Optimistic After Worst-Ever Coaching Season

There's always next season... or is there?

Your USC Trojans find themselves in a surprising slump in the 2023 season, a far cry from the high expectations set for them by pundits and experts. 

Anticipation was rife that USC, under the leadership of head coach Lincoln Riley, would be vying for a national championship and securing the Pac-12 title. However, the reality has been starkly different, serving as a humbling reminder of the unpredictable nature of the game.

Riley spoke on how fast this game could humble you with USC insider Antonio Morales. 

"This game’s always humbling, man. I’ve heard the loudest of cheers and the loudest of boos. This game, it humbles you every year. I think at times when you go through a disappointing year like this, it tests how committed you are to it. Everybody. This is just not coaches. This is just not players. This is fans. This is supporters. This is boosters. This is former players. This is everybody. And my sense of USC before we got here was this was a place at least from a football perspective — at least a lot of people used this verbiage with me when I came in to give me a sense of it — was very kind of divided. And going through a tough season like this after how phenomenal last year was, it does test that."

(per Antonio Morales of The Athletic)

Riley was heralded as the coach to usher in a new era of success for USC and is now a pivotal figure in the disappointment that has befallen the program. The lofty hopes were pinned on him to revive the glory days last experienced by the fans and the program in the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, the trajectory seems to be regressive rather than progressive.

The 2023 season, marked by unmet expectations, has disheartened fans. Calls for Riley's departure have echoed, but it appears that he is not ready to throw in the towel. Riley remains committed to being the coach who steers USC back to its former glory.

"For me, it’s even further validated that I’m in the right place. This is where I want to be. … Honestly, going through it, I feel probably even more positive about the future than I ever have here. I feel it and I know the big core of our players feel that. I know our staff feels that and I know our administration feels that."

(per Antonio Morales of The Athletic)

While the current outlook is gloomy, especially with five losses in the last six games to close the season, Riley is determined to be the catalyst for a turnaround.

Finding the light at the end of the tunnel seems challenging in the wake of the disappointing season, but USC has a history of swift transformations. The program has witnessed how fortunes can change rapidly, and the hope is that history repeats itself. The journey back to prominence may be challenging, but the Trojans remain resilient in their pursuit of reclaiming their turn-of-the-century position among the college football elite.

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