Lincoln Riley turned down the Bayou but evidently couldn’t pass up the California sunshine.

Riley is accepting the University of Southern California‘s offer to become the next head coach of the Trojans after shooting down the possibility of leaving Oklahoma for the upcoming LSU vacancy. His departure comes in the midst of his fifth winning season in Norman, with his record standing at 55-10 including four Big 12 titles and three College Football playoff appearances. Riley will replace Clay Helton after he was fired earlier this year.

“USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning,” Riley said in a statement released earlier today. “The pieces are in place for us to build the program back to where it should be and the fans expect it to be. We will work hard to develop a physical football team that is dominant on both lines of scrimmage and has a dynamic, balanced offense and a stout, aggressive defense.”

Famed former OU coach Bob Stoops, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next month, is set to return to the sidelines for the Sooners’ upcoming bowl game. In his time with the team, he led them to a national championship, ten Big 12 championships and a 190-48 record over 18 seasons. After retiring in 2017, he played a role in hiring Riley, his then-offensive coordinator, as his replacement and continued to serve the team as a part-time special assistant. Stoops was in the room when Riley announced his departure to the team.

Riley’s exit puts Oklahoma in a difficult position with their looming transition to the SEC. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Oklahoma plans to pursue Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He has knowledge of the Oklahoma program from his time coaching against them during his tenure at Texas Tech. Kingsbury has one year left on his NFL contract, but the move seems unlikely as Kyler Murray is having a breakout season and the team sits atop the NFL with a 9-2 record. Their success puts Kingsbury in a position to negotiate a big contract following the 2022 season.

Riley will take over a USC team that hasn’t been able to get back to the level of dominance they were known for under Pete Carroll from 2001-2010, but Riley’s coaching style and history of working with dominant, NFL-level players – such as Baker Mayfield, Murray and Jalen Hurts – makes USC a top destination for recruits nationwide.

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