At the end of one era at USC and the exciting start of another, an awkward juxtaposition arose here: when Lincoln Riley, the Trojan’s new trainer, and several of the aides he had already announced made their rounds in the training field on Tuesday night, USC’s current staff stayed at their regulars. cast, coaching their last few days with little clarity as to what lies ahead after Saturday’s finale in California.
For Donte Williams, these were particularly strange circumstances. USC’s interim trainer has been leading the Trojans since Clay Helton was fired in September, and during those two months the USC administration made it clear that it hopes to keep him.
But with Riley’s surprise arrival, Williams’ status suddenly became less certain, and when asked on Tuesday about the prospects of joining the next USC coach in the state, Williams chose to shy away from any such questions. Instead, he tried to divert attention away from his future and focus on Saturday’s pointless match with Cal.
“I didn’t even ask about it; I don’t want to be informed, ”Williams said. “All I care about is making sure we handle Cal. It’s all about Cal for me, trust me. This is what I focus on the most, and this is where I will stay. I don’t want this scam in any other direction at all. All day I sit here and watch films about Cal, attack, defense and special teams, and make sure that we are fully prepared to play with them. “
There has been no official word on Williams’ future, and given his responses, it is unlikely that they will be offered before this final game is over.
On Monday, Riley said he would meet with the current coaches, but didn’t “want to jump too fast.”
It’s unlikely he would jump at the chance to keep any of the current USC coaches outside of Williams, although Riley does have connections with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, hitting coach Seth Doge and offensive line coach Clay McGuire through their previous work or play. … a career at the Texas Institute of Technology.
Riley already has a Defense Coordinator (Alex Grinch) and a Foster Coach (Dennis Simmons). The rest of the staff are expected to be filled within the next two weeks.
According to a 247 Sports report, one of Oklahoma’s assistants, Roy Manning, has called for Domani Jackson’s best recruit on behalf of USC. The call was reportedly made the day after Manning visited an Oklahoma recruit at his home.
Manning, who has spent the past three seasons with the Sooners, accidentally coaches full-backs – the same group of positions as Williams.
When asked if he hopes to remain on USC staff, Williams called the request “sort of a trick question.”
“I mean, this is a great place, this is my home,” Williams said. “So right now I’m focused on Cal again.”
It was a resounding message from the USC on Tuesday, even when many were still at their peak after Sunday’s bombing. USC players acknowledge only the slightest excitement at the news of Riley before quickly switching to the current challenge on Saturday.
However, it was impossible to ignore Riley as he watched Tuesday as he walked the sideline with HR Director Spencer Harris.
“Definitely just excited,” Nick Figueroa said defensively. “Everything is appreciated. He looks. He sees what we have, what we might need to decide, and this is a great chance for everyone to take a step forward and make a name for themselves. “
It’s safe to say that none of the players expected the team’s third coach of the season to have the same big name as Riley.
“A lot of us were very surprised,” said defender Jackson Dart. “In talking about this, I rarely heard his name. Many of us are delighted. We know his history and what he did with all the programs in which he participated. “
Riley was particularly good with quarterbacks, helping two (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) advance to the Heisman Trophy seasons and the other (Jalen Herts) to become a Heisman finalist. Less than a day after Riley was introduced to the University of Southern California, he lured five-star Los Alamitos quarterback Malachi Nelson to join him and leave Oklahoma. It’s unclear if other quarterbacks can join Riley before Dart gets a chance to lay the groundwork.
When Riley spoke to the team on Monday, he made it clear that “change is just around the corner,” Figueroa said.
“But change is good,” he continued.
For the players, this change meant clarity at the top of the program. For coaches, this is likely to mean something else entirely.
“There is a lot of optimism about the future,” Figueroa said. “Many of us have been in such a gray area of what the future might be. So I think it’s nice to have some clarity and to know that this is an opportunity for our seniors to play and an important game to play. ”