USC football is back.
Is that too premature?
The Trojans finished 4-8 last season, and were 22-21 in their last four campaigns. They endured one of the worst four-year stretches in school history and haven’t won a bowl game since the 2017 Rose Bowl. They’ve also never qualified for a College Football Playoff.
But I’m sticking with it: USC football is back.
After firing longtime head coach Clay Helton and making it clear that interim head coach Donte Williams was not the permanent answer, USC’s coaching search looked lost. All its top candidates seemed to be choosing other schools, and the Trojans were set for another season of mediocrity.
Then, one fateful night in late November, everything changed.
The team somehow someway, seemingly out of nowhere, snatched Lincoln Riley from his throne in Norman, Oklahoma and right into the bright lights of Los Angeles.
Riley was excited to bring relevance back to the West Coast, and, within a short amount of time, that’s exactly what he did.
It wasn’t long before Riley was flipping recruits and landing top transfers in this year’s class, including two of the top three and three of the top nine.
Caleb Williams, the former 5-star standout at Oklahoma under Riley, was the prized possession of the 2022 class. He took the job from Spencer Rattler last season, and led the Sooners to an Alamo Bowl victory over the Oregon Ducks. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for another six in 11 games.
Jordan Addison, last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner as the best wide receiver in College Football, was the top non-quarterback to switch schools. He reeled in 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and chose the Trojans over the Texas Longhorns.
Then there was 5-star cornerback Domani Jackson, who decommitted from the Trojans in early November amid the uncertainty surrounding their head coaching position. But, just about a month later, in the middle of December, he announced he was coming back to LA, choosing the Trojans over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Ever heard of them?
These were the big names, but far from the only guys that switched to the Cardinal and Gold this offseason. Top transfers and recruits on both sides of the ball included running backs Raleek Brown and Travis Dye, wide receivers Brenden Rice and Mario Williams, and defensive backs Zion Branch, Fabian Ross, and Latrell McCutchin. The 20 (and counting) transfers that USC reeled in have made up the top class in all of college football, and set this team up for immediate and future dominance (even before their move to the Big Ten).
It’s hard to predict how long it may take for all of USC’s new pieces to gel under their new leader.
It could be a week. It could be a year. They may already be ready.
But one thing is certain.
In a short amount of time, USC has completely retooled its roster, and restored its relevance in the college football world — something it has lacked for the last four years.
Pettors have taken notice as well.
It shouldn’t be long before the Trojans are competing for Rose Bowls. They could be in the College Football Playoff conversation as early as this season.
Whatever the case, it’s safe to say: USC football is relevant again.
And by the way, the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship is set to be played on Jan. 9 at none other than SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Talk about a way to reintroduce yourself to the College Football world.