Lincoln Riley already making excuses for USC’s shortcomings

Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

USC has already overachieved this year under Lincoln Riley, but he is tempering expectations.

Even though USC has a legitimate shot at making the College Football Playoff, Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley is already putting quotes out there to temper the expectations just a bit.

Riley left Oklahoma once the Trojans finally decided to move on from Clay Helton. Oklahoma might be a top-tier job in the country, but that could change once the Sooners join the SEC. Riley knows that Oklahoma would venture into Auburn or Florida territory, so that is why TBOW went west. What is odd though is the Trojans are good, yet Riley is trying to hedge a potential second loss.

"“This was not a one-year fix,” said Riley. “Now we’ve obviously got a really good football team right now that’s got some great things in front of them. As time goes on, the depth and the roster and the talent are going to get better and better and better. And there’s going to be an evolution.”"

While Riley does need a few more recruiting cycles to realistically compete for a national title in the current landscape, his team has one loss. If the Trojans win out, including potentially a Pac-12 Championship Game victory over Oregon, USC might make the playoff for the first time in school history. Making it in this season is a bit of a long shot, but why the rampant timidity from Riley?

Go play the games and do not make excuses for coming up short in a season you overachieved in.

Here is the clip from Riley’s press conference ahead of the Cal game at home this weekend.

Lincoln Riley is weirdly making excuses to potentially hedge future USC losses

Look. USC is the No. 9 team in the nation. The Trojans’ only loss is a narrow one to defending Pac-12 champion Utah in Salt Lake City. USC is 7-1 on the year and 5-1 in conference play. With Cal, Colorado, UCLA and Notre Dame left on the schedule, USC should finish the year somewhere in the 9-3 to 11-1 range. That would be remarkable, given how truly awful they were under Helton.

No doubt about it, Riley and the Trojans hit the transfer portal hard this past offseason to hopefully get better on the fly and hasten their rebuilding process. Well, it seems to have worked, as USC looks like a New Year’s Six team instead of the 4-8 disaster they were a year ago. What is hard to understand is why Riley is making excuses. Mel Tucker did not last year at Michigan State.

In a way, they are kind of the blueprint for transfer portal success, as the Spartans won 11 games last season. They beat in-state rival Michigan at home, a team that won the Big Ten and made the College Football Playoff. Michigan State would do enough to earn a New Year’s Six bowl bid. The Spartans defeated the ACC champion Pittsburgh Panthers in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

While it has gone to hell in a handbasket for Sparty this season, that is probably not going to be the case in year two or three under Riley at USC. Many of the top-flight players in Southern California will choose to come play for him at USC. It is only a matter of time. However, you do not need to make excuses for your shortcomings when you still have so much left to play for this year.

Ultimately, anything Riley and USC do this season will be gravy. They have already achieved bowl eligibility and have the brand back in a good position. A national title may be unrealistic, but you never know. Overall, it does not serve a blue-blood program like USC for its new head coach to temper expectations like this in a season that is so far from being lost. Now was not the right time.

This is a 7-1 team, not a 7-5 team, so there is no reason to let all of the air out of this USC balloon.

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