Paul Finebaum cooked Lincoln Riley with scathing critique of 2023 season

Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Alabama v Michigan State
Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Alabama v Michigan State / Scott Halleran/GettyImages

The USC Trojans saw their 2023 season end essentially how the entirety of the second half was colored: In disappointment. Lincoln Riley's team was bashed by rival UCLA on the field, ending the regular season at just 7-5 for USC, a preseason Top 10 team in college football.

In the wake of the loss with ongoing speculation that UCLA head coach Chip Kelly could be fired after this season, former Florida head coach Dan Mullen opined that the wrong head coach in Los Angeles might be on the hot seat, a reference to Lincoln Riley.

Mullen's ESPN colleague, Paul Finebaum, was much more direct with his criticism. Appearing on 'The Matt Barrie Show', Finebaum unloaded on Riley, saying the USC coach "ought to pack it up".

"I don’t know if I’ve seen a worse coaching job by anyone than Lincoln Riley this year," Finebaum said, via On3. "It’s a complete disaster. And, quite frankly, he ‘ought to pack up. I don’t really see what his path is moving forward."

Paul Finebaum blasts Lincoln Riley in scathing critique of USC head coach

Finebaum didn't stop there either. He questioned Riley's ability as a head coach after noting that former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was trotted out as the scapegoat, but asked if Riley should instead look in the mirror for who to blame.

"Maybe you’re just a total fraud as a coach? Maybe you just lived off of a couple of Heisman winners?" Finebaum said

Grinch certainly deserves plenty of the blame. The defense was one of the worst in FBS this season and put immense pressure on both Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams to outscore opponents who were having their way with the defense.

One could argue that the only reason that USC is eligible for a bowl game at seven wins is because Williams was so exceptional. And he wouldn't be in Los Angeles if not for followiing Riley from Oklahoma. Moreover, they were competitive in some games that they maybe shouldn't have been on the back of the QB and the offense.

Having said that, this is all the more reason for Finebaum to skewer Riley, especially as they prepare to move to the Big Ten next season. Williams will be gone and the roster left at USC clearly isn't in a place to compete. If that doesn't change, perhaps the seat could indeed start to get hot.

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