Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss USC head coach Lincoln Riley’s comments saying that he expects to compete for and win championships immediately at USC, and debate the ceiling for USC this season.
DAN WETZEL: The big story at Pac 12 media days was USC. How good can they be under Lincoln Riley? Riley not backing down.
We didn't come here to play for second, he said. We're not wired that way. We came here competitively to win championships, win them now, and to win them for a long time.
What's his goal? Quote, to win the championship. I assume he means Pac 12. Maybe it means it all.
20 transfers into the Trojan program, but this is a 4 and 8 team. How good can USC be? What are your thoughts on these comments? Little Ryan Dae-esque where we're just basically saying, hey, I'm just going to lean into this stuff.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I mean, the part that jumped out to me was win them now. We came here competitively to win championships, win them now, and to win them for a long time. OK, I can believe the first part of that and the third part of that.
That's kind of putting it out there as like OK, we're here to go right now, this season, 2022. And I think USC has a chance to win the Pac 12. I think Utah is going to be good.
Oregon should be good. But I think USC could be right there with them. They did just go out and hammer the transfer market, which is the quickest way to fix your problems.
But I think USC has bigger problems that aren't necessarily fixable with a snap of the fingers in the portal. So they've got offensive line and the entire defense all have to be much better than they were when they were going 4 and 8 or whatever they were last year. So they are nowhere near, I don't think, as well-built on the line of scrimmage as, say, Utah. That could be ugly.
Oregon has five returning offensive line starters. You have a defense that's going to go up against that? Well, we'll see.
So it's interesting talk. It's bold talk. Look, we all like it when USC matters, when the spotlight's on there. Rise or fall, either way, that's interesting when USC is in the mix or way out of the mix. So I have more curiosity about Lincoln Riley at USC this season than any other coach in any other job.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, I found this to be a little amazing. Hey, kudos for embracing it, but-- or bringing it on. This is a program that went 4 and 8. The infrastructure, the built-up talent isn't there.
PAT FORDE: Right.
DAN WETZEL: This isn't Oklahoma. Can USC be incredible? Absolutely.
We saw this with Pete Carroll. I mean, there was a stretch they were the number one program in the country. And when they're rolling, you go, of course they're number one.
PAT FORDE: Yeah. Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: Right? Like, almost any team, when they really get it rolling, you're like, of course, that makes sense. Who wouldn't want to play at USC?
We've got all these players. There's no other schools to recruit against. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But it's hard to do. It's like Texas and just declaring Texas back because I'm here.
PAT FORDE: Right.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, when Texas is rolling, they're incredible. But they haven't been rolling in a long time. It's something wrong with it. So I certainly appreciate what Lincoln Riley's doing.
I just-- I mean, hey. Wow, Caleb Williams is good and Jordan Addison. You got all sorts of skill players. But there's other teams in this league that are taking that quote and just saying, oh, USC thinks they're just automatically back?
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: It's a fascinating comment. I mean, I don't know. I mean, you watch, like, Scott Frost, right?
You come back. It's like the conquer-- oh, he's going to snap his fingers. Boom, all problems will be solved. Nebraska's going to roll again. Nope.
PAT FORDE: Nope.
DAN WETZEL: All right? Harbaugh is back at Michigan. Snap your fingers. We're going to be rolling. It's a little more work than it-- you know, you need some breaks. You know? Took a while.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: It's just not that easy, I don't think. I was very surprised by that Lincoln Riley move. Maybe it's because the first job he took over was just a well-oiled Oklahoma machine, but man, if they win the Pac 12 this year, incredible. But boy, that is a throw the gauntlet down.