What USC’s Lincoln Riley hiring means for the Oregon Ducks, Pac-12 at large

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  • Lincoln Riley
    Lincoln Riley
    American football player and coach

The breaking news came down in the noon hour of Sunday afternoon, shocking much of the college football world.

The USC Trojans hired head coach Lincoln Riley away from the Oklahoma Sooners, giving one of the traditional powers in the Pac-12 one of the hottest coaches in the nation.

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It’s a great hire for the Trojans, who will be looking to get back into the national conversation and hoping to regain a modicum of power in the conference. However, what does it mean for the Oregon Ducks and the Pac-12 as a whole?

For the conference, you could argue it is a great thing. For the teams in the conference, it’s concerning.

Let’s start with the Pac-12. Since the College Football Playoff era began in 2014, only two teams have been included, with Oregon and Washington standing alone in that regard. The conference has routinely been left out, and seraching for another team to try and vye for national recognition. USC is a name-brand school that draw attention from the east coast, and their ability to be competitive will boost the conference as a whole. Lincoln Riley leading them will undoubtedly bring more eyes to the Pac-12, which boosts revenue and increases competition. Great hire for the conference.

For the teams in the conference, specifically the Ducks, this hire is unfortunate. Under Mario Cristobal, Oregon has been able to enjoy a massive talent gap over the rest of the conference due to his recruiting prowess, and the single-handed power that the Ducks have held over the rest of the conference. That will no longer be the case, with Riley standing as a great recruiter, and his new team likely to step up in success and draw more attention from top recruits.

The Ducks have been able to draw from the California talent pool over the last several years simply because there wasn’t a team in California that kept players in state. That’s going to change.

On the flip side, USC being good can benefit the Ducks by simply giving them a game on the schedule — be it in the regular season or a conference championship game —that is respected by the playoff committee.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, this hire is not necessarily good news for Oregon. It makes supremacy in the Pac-12 harder to achieve going forward.

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