How do high-profile college football coaches measure up against Lincoln Riley?

We are back with more editions of The Riley Files as the offseason of college football kicks into high gear (or low gear, depending on your viewpoint).

When we talked to Oklahoma insider Kegan Reneau one year ago, it was fascinating to see which coaches challenged Riley when he was at Oklahoma. Therefore, it was worth exploring the question: Which coaches would be compelling and recommended hires at elite Big Ten programs, at least if measured by the need to beat Lincoln Riley and USC?

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The follow-up question: Which coaches would Lincoln Riley love to face in the Big Ten, coaches Riley would have no fear of whatsoever?

When you consider what was said in these conversations from 2022, it is notable how some coaches’ reputations have remained intact or grown in the ensuing 12 months, while others’ reputations have taken a hit and need to be built back this coming season:


Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia Monday, September 5, 2022.

“Obviously, people like Dabo — their programs are just so disciplined whenever they play the game of football,” Reneau said.


It will be fascinating to see if Clemson can hold off Florida State in this year’s ACC race. Dabo Swinney is entrenched at Clemson, however — make no mistake about that — and he isn’t going anywhere.


Jan 2, 2021; Glendale, AZ, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell holes up the trophy after defeating the Oregon Ducks 34-17 at the 50th PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Network
Ncaa Football Oregon At Iowa State

Matt Campbell was seen as the favorite to land the USC job before Lincoln Riley came and changed everything in the blink of an eye. It is notable how much Campbell’s coaching stock has dipped since the USC head coaching search took place.



Sep 17, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley and offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees (72) react in the second half against the Fresno State Bulldogs at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“I think a lot of people immediately compare Lincoln Riley to Ryan Day because of the situations that they both were in and what they both took over,” Reneau said.

The comparison is clean and tidy when one considers that Riley took over at Oklahoma from Bob Stoops, and Ryan Day took over at Ohio State after Urban Meyer left. Both Riley and Day worked for their bosses before being handed the keys to those blue-blood programs.


When they are in the Big Ten, it will be fun to watch the battle between these coaches.


Dec 3, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman looks on during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Klieman’s name also came up in this discussion. Kansas State rewarded him with a big extension this offseason. Klieman was not an easy coach for Riley to figure out at Oklahoma. Klieman just won the Big 12 championship at KSU, reminding everyone just how good he is. If a Big Ten school hired him, that would be a chess move meant to deal with USC.



Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day speaks to media following a spring football practice at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center in Columbus on March 22, 2022.
Ncaa Football Ohio State Spring Practice

“Ryan Day isn’t on my list of coaches that I think will frighten” Lincoln Riley, Reneau said.

Ohio State fans won’t want to hear this, but Ryan Day does have something to prove before being elevated to a higher echelon of coaches.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire