Hype. It’s something USC rediscovered when Lincoln Riley was hired. There was never any point in hyping Clay Helton during his seven-year reign except when it became apparent midway through the 2016 season that Sam Darnold could transcend Helton’s limitations and flaws. For one and a half seasons, the flame burned brightly in the Los Angeles Coliseum, but other than that one Darnold-created burst of brilliance, USC football has lived in the shadows for the past 10 years.
When Riley got hired, however, everything changed. Hype is back. Hype feels real. Hype is reasonable again.
To be very clear, USC still has to earn its place. It’s not as though anything will be handed to the Trojans on a silver platter. They need to work to reclaim elevated status. We can all agree on that.
However, we can see what’s right in front of us: Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison give the Trojans a turbo-charged offense and the total expectation that they will light up scoreboards this year. Riley is poised to bring the high standard of performance that he carried from Oklahoma.
Sooner fans should be happy with Brent Venables, but for all the things they didn’t like about Lincoln Riley, one fact is incontestable: Riley never lost more than two games in a season at OU. If Riley keeps that streak intact this year, USC is headed to a big bowl game and almost certainly the Pac-12 Championship Game (since one of the two losses will likely be to Notre Dame, not a second Pac-12 team other than Utah).
Yes, the hype has to be earned, but there is every expectation it will be earned. The only real question is if USC can earn it right away, in Year 1, or if it has to wait until 2023 to build more depth up front.
At any rate, here is the three-minute hype video released by the USC football program. You might enjoy it with game week now here, and the Lincoln Riley era about to begin in earnest:
— USC Football ✌️ (@USC_FB) August 29, 2022