Oklahoma Football Coach Lincoln Riley Leaves School to Join Top Power 5 Program

The Oklahoma Sooners football team needs a new coach. On Sunday, Oklahoma announced that Lincoln Riley has left the school to become the head coach of the USC Trojans. He replaces Clay Helton, who was fired in September after posting a 46-24 record in seven seasons. 

"I am truly excited to come to USC and join the Trojan Family as its new head football coach," Riley said in a press release. "USC has an unparalleled football tradition with tremendous resources and facilities, and the administration has made a deep commitment to winning. I look forward to honoring that successful tradition and building on it. 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."

Riley, 38, leaves Oklahoma after posting a 55-10 overall record in five seasons. He led the Sooners to four Big 12 championships and was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2018. In his first three seasons, Riley led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff but lost all three semifinal matchups. He took over for Bob Stoops who was the head coach from 1999-2016 and led the team to a national championship in 2000. Stoops has returned to Oklahoma to be the interim head coach. 

"Leaving OU was probably the most difficult decision of my life," Riley said in a press release. "OU is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. That's not going to change. It's not going to change in the SEC, it's not going to change with another head coach. It's stood the test of time and it's going to continue to do so. This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge, and I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that."


Riley takes over a USC program that is looking to get to the national championship scene. The team has won 11 national titles with the last one occurring in 2004. The Trojans currently have a 4-7 record and end the season on Saturday against Cal.