Lincoln Riley, who went to Texas Tech as a student and learned a lot about football from Mike Leach, came from East Carolina to Oklahoma in 2015. His journey in and through the college football world did not take him through the Pac-12. When Riley chose to leave Oklahoma for USC, he chose to coach against a new set of programs with a new roster of coaches.
Yes, USC will move to the Big Ten in 2024, but that doesn’t change the reality that Riley will match wits with new coaches in the coming years. For 2022 and 2023, Pac-12 coaches will be the men he has to outmaneuver.
The first Pac-12 coach Riley will face at USC is Stanford’s David Shaw, who has won multiple Rose Bowls and Pac-12 championships. Though Stanford hasn’t won the Pac-12 since 2015, Shaw’s body of work is still considerable. Shaw’s Stanford program has fallen on hard times, but Shaw did say this offseason that his team is like a tiger lying in the weeds, waiting to spring an ambush. Shaw thinks he has the goods.
It’s up to Lincoln Riley to offer a significant counter.
We talked more about Riley versus Shaw with Mark Rogers at The Voice of College Football: