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Why This College Football Coach Is Very Underrated?

College football has many great coaches, but if you don't win a title people look down on you very quickly. For one coach out in Southern California that is his reality every day. Current USC head coach Lincoln Riley faces harsh criticism for not being able to win a playoff game and a National Championship.


Riley's Start


Riley took over as the head man for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2017 at only 33 years old. Riley was the offensive coordinator and was given the head coaching job after head coach Bob Stoops stepped down in the middle of the summer.


Riley inherited a team that had tons of talent and had their eyes on the playoffs and even a title. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was heading into his final season with the school and would go on to win the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield would later be selected first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.


The Sooners lost one regular season game in 2017 to Iowa State, but that loss didn't keep them out of the playoffs. Oklahoma would travel to the Rose Bowl to play Georgia. The Sooners would fall to the Bulldogs in overtime and had high hopes for the 2018 season.


In 2018 Riley was working with a new quarterback named Kyler Murray and turned him into a Heisman winner and first overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Sooners lost to Texas in the regular season but would get revenge on them in the Big 12 title game and reach the playoffs for the second straight season.


Oklahoma would fall to Alabama in the playoffs which wasn't that big of a shocker. Alabama had a way better team and got the better of the Sooners.


In 2019 Riley would have a transfer quarterback from Alabama by the name of Jalen Hurts. Unlike Mayfield and Murray, Hurts would not go on to win the Heisman but was a finalist.

Oklahoma made it to the playoffs once again but would get smacked by the soon-to-be champion LSU Tigers.


In the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Riley didn't make the playoffs but he had teams that would compete until the very end. Winning nine games in the shortened COVID season in 2020 and winning ten in 2021.



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Riley would leave Oklahoma for the USC head coaching job in 2022. Star quarterback Caleb Willams would follow Riley from Oklahoma to USC where he won the Heisman Trophy.

USC was very close to making the playoffs last season but dropped to Utah in the PAC-12 title game.


Riley Is A Great College Football Coach


There are three head coaches in college football that you can say are better than Riley and that is Nick Saban Alabama, Kirby Smart Georgia, and Dabo Swinney Clemson. Those are the three best coaches in the sport and they have all claimed more than one title since the playoff era.


The next group of coaches features guys like Ryan Day from Ohio State, Jim Harbaugh from Michigan, Brian Kelly from LSU, and Riley.


Ryan Day has coached in the playoffs three times and won one playoff game against Clemson in 2020 which they probably only won because they played a handful of fewer games than the Tigers and were more fresh. Ohio State would get boat raced by Alabama a few weeks later in the title game.


Jim Harbaugh has been at Michigan for almost a decade and has only won one bowl game. Harbaugh couldn't beat Urban Meyer and Ohio State and lucky for Harbaugh, Meyer stepped down as Ohio State's coach after the 2018 season. Harbaugh has turned around the last two seasons and has beaten Ohio State, won the Big Ten, and made the playoffs losing both times.


Brain Kelly took Notre Dame to the playoffs twice losing to Alabama and Clemson. I don't think Kelly is even on the same playing field as Riley at the moment.


Riley is better than all three of these coaches, and just because he hasn't won a playoff game doesn't mean he is overrated by any means. Losing to Georgia, Alabama, and LSU in the playoffs really isn't that shameful. The other three coaches that I just mentioned couldn't beat those teams either.


Nobody is saying that Riley is the best coach in the sport but is the best coach in the game who has not won a championship. He is the best offensive coach in the country. He has produced three Heisman trophy winners in seven years. If Caleb Williams goes number one overall in next year's draft he will also have produced three first overall picks.


If anything Riley is underrated, not overrated. He will one day bring home some hardware, and the haters will be crying.



 

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