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USC Hires Lincoln Riley ... Washington, Your Move

The Trojans surprise the college football landscape by landing the Oklahoma coach.
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All right Washington, what have you got?

In a stunning coaching development, USC has hired Lincoln Riley away from powerhouse Oklahoma to restore its floundering football program, several news outlets reported on Sunday. 

The day before, Riley emphatically denied that he was leaving for LSU following the Sooners' 37-33 loss to state rival Oklahoma State.

No one asked him about the Trojans.

With a Pac-12 new commissioner on board in George Kliavkoff, the next obvious move in upgrading the conference was reviving its flagship football program in Los Angeles that has been maddeningly up and down since 2008, when Pete Carroll left for the NFL to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

Riley's news comes on the heels of Florida hiring Billy Napier of Louisiana as its new coach, Washington State promoting interim coach Jake Dickert to the top job, Arizona State announcing that Herm Edwards will return, Oregon State agreeing to an extension with Jonathan Smith and Baylor saying it will present an extension to Dave Aranda.

The list of candidates continues to narrow as teams such as Washington, LSU, Virginia Tech and others seek head coaches. 

The Huskies aren't expected to make a big hiring splash similar to USC's. In its tight-lipped search, the UW is believed to be pursuing candidates such as Iowa State's Matt Campbell, Fresno State's Kalen DeBoer and California's Justin Wilcox, with former UW standout and longtime NFL assistant Ray Horton pursuing the job, as well.

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The UW and USC haven't played since 2019, when a Chris Petersen-coached team beat the Trojans 28-14, and these teams aren't scheduled to meet 2022. 

Since Carroll's exit, USC has employed Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian and Clay Helton as coach — and fired each one of them.

Kiffin, of course, is now at Mississippi, Sarkisian just completed his first season at Texas and Helton, let go following the second game this season, will take over at Georgia Southern.

Riley, 38, will take over a Trojans program suffering through a 4-7 season, which includes Saturday night's 35-31 loss to BYU at the Coliseum. USC has a game remaining against California on Saturday in Berkeley.

Since replacing Bob Stoops in Norman, Riley compiled a 55-10 ledger, guiding the Sooners to four consecutive Big 12 titles and three College Football Playoff appearances in four tries. 

Stoops, who has hinted at a coaching return, likely will be cast as a logical replacement for Riley, who's a former Texas Tech quarterback and Stoops assistant.

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