Riley and USC are ready to make Pac-12 run
Hollywood (News4usonline) — The Novo was home for Pac-12 Conference football media day on July 29. There were plenty of storylines to go around for the daylong event. The biggest news was made weeks ago when both USC and UCLA announced they were leaving the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten Conference in 2024. Besides that very important matter, the issue of student-athletes being compensated through NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) was hot on the agenda as well.
Pac-12 Media Day: How it works
The Pac-12 media day is when all teams from the conference come together to answer the media’s questions ahead of the upcoming season. Each team was represented by their head coach and two players from the organization for questions throughout the day.
USC head coach Lincoln Riley at the Pac-12 Media Day on July 29, 2022. Photo by Dylan Bryant/News4usonline
The event kicked off at 8 a.m. with an opening statement by Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. Kliavkoff answered a lot of the media’s questions before even opening up to questioning. He did so by skimming over the Pac-12’s current positions and teams leaving for the Big Ten. After the commissioner, each of the 12 teams took their 25-minute time slot to speak and answer questions on the main stage.
The two players representing the schools also were available for Q&A off the main stage. This year the two Los Angeles teams seemed to be drawing most of the attention as both USC and UCLA are making the move to the Big Ten in 2024. These teams still have two seasons in front of them to compete in the Pac-12 and win a championship, but this left recruiting questions on the board.
As for USC head coach Lincoln Riley, he has a lot on his plate.
The Lincoln Riley Factor
Serving five years as head coach at Oklahoma University (OU), Riley has been a part of the USC family for months now. Along with his coaching capabilities, he also brought quarterback Caleb Williams from OU.
Riley expressed true excitement in his opening statement and his time since joining the team.
“From building a staff, building a roster in a very unique way, to a tremendous spring, a great off-season, now time to put some of the talk and all the hype and all the other things going on behind us and go play ball, it’s a great feeling, something we’re very much looking forward to,” Riley said.
There were a lot of looming questions surrounding the new coach and he handled the pressure as a true professional. Riley told the media he sees an opportunity and the sky’s the absolute limit. The first-year USC coach doesn’t believe there is pressure on the team.
USC finished the 2021 season winning only four games out of twelve. Riley comes in and plans on changing last season’s negative record. Riley has high hopes for the team this season.
The goal is “to win the championship,” Riley said about the team’s expectations this season.
Along with the “pressure” USC has to face this year, Williams also is expected to perform at the highest level. Williams played under Riley at OU last season and had a productive season. Williams took snaps halfway through the season and showed enough ability for Riley to bring him to Los Angeles.
“Caleb is one of the rare young guys that have the elite ability with both,” Riley remarked. “Then I think for those of you that maybe got a chance to be around him a little bit, he’s got a very magnetic personality. He’s a guy that can get in any scenario, any room, feel comfortable, get along with people, be very present, has a great way with people. I think you got the makings of a potentially great leader and a really great player.”
I had an opportunity to ask the final question on media day. The question I asked Riley was: “Is there anyone on the offensive side of the ball that gets you excited in the morning, that opens up the playbook?”
USC quarterback Caleb Williams does the Q&A thing with reporters during the Pac-12 Conference Media Day on July 29, 2022. Photo by Dylan Bryant/News4usonline
“I hope a bunch of ’em get me excited in the morning, evening, afternoon, all (smiling),” Riley responded in a laughing manner.
“Yeah, I think we have some really intriguing skill sets,” Riley added. “I’m really excited about our backs, both Travis Dye and Austin Jones are proven guys at this level that are both really pros in the way they go about their business. They both have great experience. So I’m really excited about those two.”
Riley foresees a lot of competition in the locker room and is interested in how the offense will evolve as they have made more new additions this season.
“The receiving core obviously we’ve made a lot of additions and changes, too,” Riley said. “I mean, so many of those guys, obviously Jordan and Mario have been talked about quite a bit and deservedly so. Excited about Terrell Bynum, Brenden Rice, Tahj Washington, Gary Bryant. I think that’s a really intriguing group. We have some neat skill positions, have some guys that can stretch the field, make a lot of plays, give us some versatility.”
The 2022–2023 collegiate football season should be a very exciting one for the Trojans as they work towards turning up a winning record. It is time for the team to bring a winning culture back to USC. With all the new additions, Riley and Williams are looking to be a dynamic duo that dominates the Pac-12 before moving on to the Big Ten.