Lincoln Riley’s coaching staff at USC are starting to take shape

The day before his official departure from Norman, Oklahoma, for Los Angeles, Lincoln Riley invited two Oklahoma assistants and two other staff to join him on an early morning flight.

As defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, receivers coach Dennis Simmons, strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie and director of football operations Clarke Stroud boarded this morning plane in Oklahoma, the implications of their invitation were clear.

“These guys got on a plane with me this morning, with no contract, nothing,” Riley said at her opening press conference. “I said, okay, the plane leaves at 6am, they were there at 5:40 am. They were instrumental in our success in Oklahoma and I think that says a lot about the fact that they wanted to be here with you.

Since then, there have been a few more plane flights transporting Sooner’s assistants to USC. As Riley stepped up his recruiting ahead of Wednesday’s signing day, he has quietly filled his team with coaches, whom he has worked with in Oklahoma or elsewhere.

Three more Oklahoma defensive assistants have since joined Riley and Grinch at USC, including defensive back coach Roy Manning, inside linebackers coach Brian Odom and defensive end / outside linebacker coach Jamar. Cain. All three have previously recruited for USC and have changed their social media accounts to reflect their place on the USC staff.

Their roles remain unclear, as USC has yet to officially announce any additions to Riley’s staff.

Brian Odom, who coached inside linebackers in Oklahoma, is one of Sooner’s former assistants working under Lincoln Riley at USC.

(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Mississippi State inside receivers coach Dave Nichol, who has worked with Riley in both Texas Tech and East Carolina, joins the offensive staff as wide receiver coach, multiple reports show . Tulsa’s offensive line coach Zach Hanson has joined the USC staff, apparently as a tight ends coach, but his exact role has not been announced.

Hanson’s wife, Annie, also joined the USC staff in a recruiting role. In Oklahoma, Hanson held the title of assistant athletic director of recruiting strategy and administrative engagement and was widely regarded as one of the driving forces behind the Sooners recruiting operation.

Riley still has several positions to fill in his offensive staff, as well as a defensive line coach. USC is currently without a running back coach or an offensive lineman, and it doesn’t look like Riley is considering poaching any Sooners staff either. Oklahoma announced on Friday that running backs coach DeMarco Murray and well-respected offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh would both be retained by new Oklahoma coach Brent Venables, dashing the hopes of some football fans. ‘USC that Bedenbaugh would follow Riley to Los Angeles.

USC’s latest offensive line coach has already found a new landing spot. Clay McGuire held the same position in Washington State, returning to a program where he coached for six seasons. Robert Stiner, who was hired less than a year ago as USC’s new strength and conditioning coach, also landed on his feet, joining former coach Clay Helton in the Georgia squad. Southern.

The rest of the USC staff from last season remain in limbo. Only McGuire and defensive line coach Vic So’oto, who wrote a farewell social media post earlier this week, have publicly announced that they are no longer on staff at USC.

It seems unlikely that the remaining staff will be retained. Interim coach Donte Williams has been the subject of rumors for several Pac-12 openings, but in the week following the end of the season, neither Williams nor USC gave an update on his status. . Elsewhere on the staff, new coaches have already been hired to coach receivers, tight ends, edge rushers, inside linebackers and cornerbacks.

The latest openings are expected to be filled in the coming weeks, as Riley and her new staff make their last frantic push on the recruiting trail.

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