Leinart: 'No doubt in my mind' Lincoln Riley will quickly turn USC into title contender


The USC Trojans formally introduced Lincoln Riley as their new head coach on Monday, in a move that shifted the college football landscape and effectively positioned the school to rebuild its old reputation as a national powerhouse.

And although it's unclear how much time Riley will need to restore the Trojans' dominance in the Pac-12 and construct a national title contender, former USC quarterback Matt Leinart has rather high hopes for the ex-Oklahoma leader.

"He's going to be great. I have no doubt that he's going to turn this program around," Leinart told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. "He's going to get to playoffs, and he's going to compete for championships. There's no doubt in my mind... [Turnaround] is going to be quick. USC's had a really bad season, but there are good players on that roster. And with the transfer portal, with all these things, there are ways to construct a [winning] roster...

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Matt Leinart, Former USC Quarterback
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"Lincoln has a formula, and I think one of the selling points to come to USC is, the path to a Playoff. You can say what you want, but the Pac-12 is down. USC has been the brand of the Pac-12 forever... I hate putting timelines on these things because it's hard, but they'll have patience. Fans will fill that Coliseum up next year... He's going to preach accountability and develop players that are not only on the current roster, but players who are coming in..."

Riley, who's rumored to have signed a $110 million contract with incentives, spent five seasons as leader of Oklahoma. He went 55-10 during his tenure, winning four Big 12 titles and earning four trips to the College Football Playoff. Riley also developed two Heisman-winning quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who were selected as top overall picks in the NFL draft.

USC's search for a new head coach began in early September, when athletic director Mike Bohn announced the firing of Clay Helton. Helton's tenure with the Trojans was disappointing. Although he led the school to a Rose Bowl win in 2017, he was unable to take full advantage of the Pac-12's downturn across six seasons. Overall, USC won just one conference title under Helton's watch, and failed to reach the coveted CFP.

The entire college football conversation between Leinart and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.