‘Isn’t it Ironic:’ Lincoln Riley, USC feel the sting of betrayal in Running Back Coach’s ‘Choice’

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  • Tashard Choice
    American football player
  • Lincoln Riley
    Lincoln Riley
    American football player and coach of LSU

“What goes around comes around.” It’s a saying many of us have heard all of our lives. “You reap what you sow.” That’s another one. The primary tenant, our choices have consequences and sometimes negative ones.

That’s what Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans are facing as they watch their recently hired running back’s coach, Tashard Choice, leave his post with USC to join Steve Sarkisian’s staff at the University of Texas. Choice, who played for the Dallas Cowboys, heads back to Texas, where he’s highly respected, having coached with the Cowboys before joining the college ranks at the University of North Texas.

Before his incredibly brief stint with USC, he was with his alma mater, Georgia Tech.

Everyone’s been feeling great over in Los Angeles after the Trojans poached Riley, several assistants, and players in the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes from Oklahoma. A move that was reportedly in the works for months came to fruition while the sting of Oklahoma’s loss to in-state rival Oklahoma State was still fresh. Less than 24 hours after the upset loss, Riley got off a plane, still wearing his Oklahoma Sooners Jordan’s, and took the helm as the next head coach at USC.

What many in Los Angeles are feeling after Choice decided to go to the Texas Longhorns is what many who follow the Oklahoma Sooners felt about Riley’s decision.

Betrayed.

My colleague over at the Trojans Wire argues that this is different from what many college coaches do when they leave one job for another. But the feeling that Riley, and what many in Trojans’ circles are feeling, is not dissimilar to what Oklahoma leadership, players, coaches, and fans felt upon Riley’s departure.

Now a stung Lincoln Riley has to not only find a new running back coach, but wonder if anyone else will stab him in the back. – Matt Zemek, Trojans Wire

Is Tashard Choice’s decision to leave the Trojans after reportedly joining the staff unprofessional? On the surface, it would appear so. Sure, he had just joined the staff, but it’s no different from how coaches move around in college football circles. Here one day, gone tomorrow.

Every coach in college football is looking for the next great opportunity. That’s what Lincoln Riley cited as his reason for leaving the security and established success at the University of Oklahoma. Opportunity. Choice did the same.

And while Riley feels the sting of betrayal of a recently hired coach bailing for what he believed to be a better opportunity, he can look back and reflect on how his decision went down and wonder if he’s simply reaping what he sowed.

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