College Football

USC paid nearly $20 million in Lincoln Riley’s first season after poaching coach from Oklahoma, per report

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USATSI

USC spent $19.7 million on coach Lincoln Riley during the 2022 calendar year, federal tax returns obtained by USA Today show. The university paid Riley nearly $10 million in base salary and was credited with almost $9.6 million in “other reportable compensation.” 

In a statement provided to USA Today, the school disclosed that the “other reportable compensation” was in relation to a buyout that the university had to pay Oklahoma on Riley’s behalf. The Trojans hired Riley away from the Sooners in November 2021. 

The documents also credited former USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch with $4.3 million, including his $2 million base salary and buyout owed to Oklahoma. In addition, USC doled out $4 million to former coach Clay Helton, who’s now entering his third season at Georgia Southern

After five years, four Big 12 titles and two College Football Playoff appearances at Oklahoma, Riley went 11-3 in his first season at USC. The Trojans made it to the 2022 Pac-12 Championship Game, losing to Utah, and capped the year with another defeat against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. 

Quarterback Caleb Williams did become the third signal caller to win the Heisman Trophy under Riley’s guidance, however. With Williams back at the offense’s helm in 2023, USC posted a 7-5 regular season — the worst in Riley’s career as a head coach — before salvaging the year with a win against ACC runner-up Louisville in the Holiday Bowl. 

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