Lincoln Riley was proper to vow quick USC championships

A yr in the past, I knew what USC’s daring transfer to usher in Lincoln Riley meant — not only for the Trojans however for faculty soccer on the West Coast.

I knew that Riley, already confirmed as one of many high coaches within the sport at 39 years previous with a West Texas swagger, was finally going to raise USC again to nationwide prominence. I knew that his presence and his electrical offenses would reignite Los Angeles’ ardour for faculty soccer, proper because the Rams have been constructing momentum towards a Tremendous Bowl crown received proper right here in Inglewood. As The Occasions’ nationwide school soccer reporter, I used to be selfishly excited as a result of Riley’s arrival assured a wider viewers for my work and that of my ridiculously gifted and pushed colleagues on the faculty beat.

However I didn’t know Riley can be this good.

Sure, as soon as he satisfied star quarterback Caleb Williams to switch from Oklahoma, and as soon as Biletnikoff Award-winning huge receiver Jordan Addison adopted Williams right here from Pittsburgh, I figured USC’s turnaround from a deflating 4-8 season can be definitive and swift.

But, in the beginning of the season in August, I couldn’t shake the necessity to set tempered expectations for yr one. Trying on the tender begin to the schedule, I noticed an inexpensive path to 9-1, with the lone loss coming at Utah (which I picked to crash the Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinals).

My logical mind mentioned UCLA, which beat USC 62-33 final yr on the Coliseum and returned Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, can be constructed too soundly for the Trojans to beat within the fifth yr of Chip Kelly’s tenure.

That very same measured pondering led me to imagine {that a} Notre Dame program USC hadn’t overwhelmed since 2016 and had made two CFP semifinal appearances in that point interval — even with a first-time head coach in Marcus Freeman — was going to have the ability to dictate the tenor of the motion with Midwestern brawn.

Incorrect. Doubly mistaken.

I by no means may have imagined — and I don’t suppose I’m alone — that in lower than a yr Riley and his teaching workers would be capable to take Clay Helton’s church youth group tradition and mould it into an easy-pour basis that ended up more durable than Riley’s 2021 Easter brisket (for those who don’t get the reference, a fast Google search ought to clarify).

Holy smokes, these Trojans are robust.

Simply as a lot because the Heisman-worthy exploits of Williams, USC roughed up its rivals as a result of it had superior will — and talent — within the trenches.

Throughout a 38-27 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, the Trojans rushed for 204 yards to the Combating Irish’s 90. Operating again Austin Jones had 154 yards, bringing his whole within the rivalry victories to 274. USC’s main receiver, Addison, had simply 45 yards.

The Trojans aren’t on the verge of successful the Pac-12 and heading to the playoff for the primary time as a consequence of their Hollywood flash. South L.A. mettle, extra like.

USC operating again Raleek Brown rambles by the Notre Dame protection within the third quarter Saturday on the Coliseum.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Occasions)

Identical to in opposition to UCLA when Charbonnet was held to 95 yards, USC stayed dedicated to stopping the run in opposition to Notre Dame’s pounding assault and by no means cracked.

Early within the sport, the Combating Irish couldn’t transfer the ball three to 6 toes after they wanted it most. They resulted to passing with quarterback Drew Pyne, who did it properly, however that was by no means going to be Notre Dame’s components for victory within the Coliseum.

In the event you want extra proof of Riley’s affect Saturday, look no additional than what occurred at his alma mater, Texas Tech. The Pink Raiders edged Oklahoma 51-48 in time beyond regulation, handing the Sooners their sixth Large 12 loss.

Riley misplaced seven convention video games in 5 seasons main Oklahoma.

This week, Riley will get just a few days to organize for Utah, the one group that beat USC this yr — by one level because of a gutsy two-point conversion name by Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, the dean of Pac-12 coaches.

Whittingham’s Utes by no means go down straightforward. However, after the final two weeks, I can say this confidently: Neither do Lincoln Riley’s Trojans.

Michigan mea culpa

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh gestures with his hand and argues with a game official during a game.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh argues with a sport official through the Wolverines’ win over Ohio State on Saturday.

(Jay LaPrete / Related Press)

As a proud graduate of Michigan, I believed I used to be taking a stand and doing what was proper for my alma mater on Nov. 28, 2020.

The Wolverines had simply misplaced to Penn State at dwelling to convey their file to 2-4 in Harbaugh’s sixth season, nevertheless it wasn’t simply the unhappy outcomes of the Large Ten’s COVID-ravaged season that had me out of types.

It was Harbaugh’s 0-5 file in opposition to Ohio State and the belief it was about to be 0-6 — the Sport ended up being canceled as a consequence of Michigan points with COVID.

So, I wrote on this area that Harbaugh shouldn’t be issued a “pandemic pardon” by Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

In fact, because it turned out, I couldn’t have been extra mistaken (I hope you aren’t noticing a theme in at this time’s column).

Harbaugh deserves a world of credit score for performing deep self-evaluation, hiring a workers of younger, artistic assistants and rediscovering his incomparable zest for all times and the sport of soccer. He additionally lastly prioritized the Sport the best way the Buckeyes have been doing as they lorded over the Wolverines the final 20 years.

Manuel deserves credit score for not listening to disgruntled alums like myself and staying the course whereas additionally making use of stress the place he may — earlier than the 2021 season, Manuel minimize Harbaugh’s pay in half.

After back-to-back double-digit victories over Ohio State, Harbaugh has returned to the highest rung of coaches within the sport.

Now, it’s Ohio State coach Ryan Day who will discover himself in a must-win situation subsequent yr when the groups meet once more in Ann Arbor. That will appear loopy, given Day’s 45-5 file in Columbus, however the Buckeyes received’t settle for three straight losses to “That Team Up North.”

Stanford coach David Shaw stands on the sideline and watches his team play against California in Berkeley

Stanford coach David Shaw watches his group play in opposition to California in Berkeley on Nov. 19.

(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Related Press)

Late Saturday evening, after Stanford misplaced to Brigham Younger to fall to 3-9, David Shaw introduced his resignation. It needed to come as a aid to Stanford followers that Shaw was capable of see this was the appropriate transfer for all concerned.

Stanford was by no means meant to be a perennial powerhouse in soccer, however the Cardinal have fallen means too far the final couple years to justify Shaw’s bloated wage.

Will probably be attention-grabbing to see the place Stanford goes with its search. The job has turn into even tougher in at this time’s local weather with title, picture and likeness and the switch portal. Stanford administration will stick up its nostril at something resembling pay for play, and college admissions just isn’t going to be form to undergraduate transfers.

The Cardinal can be sensible to look throughout city at Brent Brennan, the San Jose State head coach who has rapidly led the Spartans again to respectability.

As for the remainder of the teaching carousel, the weekend noticed plenty of intriguing developments.

  • Nebraska employed Matt Rhule, who struggled within the NFL with the Panthers however is a confirmed program builder from his time at Temple and Baylor.
  • Lane Kiffin signed an extension to stay at Mississippi, which has opened the door for Liberty’s Hugh Freeze to doubtlessly return to the SEC at Auburn.
  • Arizona State introduced Sunday morning that it has employed 32-year-old Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, an Arizona State graduate.
  • Colorado has reportedly supplied the job to Deion Sanders. Would Sanders depart Jackson State and the Southern footprint to teach the Buffaloes?
  • Wisconsin had been assumed to be leaning towards selling interim head coach Jim Leonhard. However can the Badgers actually be impressed by his 4-3 file in opposition to unranked opponents, with two of the losses coming to rivals Iowa and Minnesota? A report by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Sunday morning mentioned that Wisconsin is now focusing on Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell.

Tiebreak wants a tweak

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. looks for a receiver against Washington State.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. seems for a receiver in opposition to Washington State on Saturday.

(Younger Kwak / Related Press)

The Pac-12’s determination to remove division winners and ship its high two groups within the standings to the league championship sport made sense. Theoretically, it was going to result in its groups with one of the best probability of creating the playoff squaring off in Las Vegas.

Solely, that didn’t occur in yr one.

Utah, at 9-3, just isn’t beneath playoff consideration. However it received the three-way tiebreak of 7-2 groups with Washington, 10-2, and Oregon, 9-3.

The league ought to revisit its guidelines. The Huskies must be taking part in USC in Vegas on Friday, not the Utes.

The primary tiebreaker is face to face, and Washington beat Oregon. Oregon beat Utah. The Utes and Huskies didn’t play one another, which rendered the face to face issue ineffective beneath the foundations.

The three groups made all of it the best way to step 4 of the tiebreaker, which was the power of the groups’ convention schedule. Utah’s received out.

If face to face couldn’t settle it, then total file ought to have been a element, shifting Washington to the entrance of the road.

If chaos reigns on championship weekend, an 11-2 Washington group coming off a win over what is going to seemingly be No. 4 USC would no less than be into consideration for that fourth playoff spot, whereas Utah is not going to be a selection beneath any circumstance.

Applause for Rattler

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler throws the football.

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler throws the ball in opposition to Clemson on Saturday in Clemson, S.C.

(Jacob Kupferman / Related Press)

Among the best tales in school soccer this season ended up being one other with deep ties to Riley.

If the game awarded a feel-good story of the yr, it will go to South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler, who misplaced his job to Caleb Williams midseason final yr at Oklahoma after being a preseason Heisman Trophy favourite.

Like Williams, Rattler took benefit of the switch portal to discover a higher dwelling with the Gamecocks.

The final two weeks, Rattler lastly lived as much as his five-star billing in huge upset victories over Tennessee and Clemson, which shook up the playoff image.

Due to Rattler and Shane Beamer’s upstart South Carolina program, the playoff choice committee is operating out of deserving groups to contemplate.