NEW YORK CITY, NY – With the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner set to be announced tonight, CFP matchups set in stone and perennial programs in flux with new coaches, the ripple effects of Lincoln Riley defecting to USC and Brian Kelly heading south to LSU, remain to be seen.
In what has inspired a tidal wave of changes in the college football landscape, you have the forementioned Riley taking his high-powered offense to SoCal in an effort to revitalize the once-proud and storied Trojan program.
Shortly after his departure, Riley would be replaced by Clemson defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, who would likely bring some much-needed defensive toughness to the SEC-bound Sooners.
Kelly, who left South Bend for Baton Rouge for ten years and $95 million enters from being the lone independent playing the likes of Pitt, Army, Navy, USC and Stanford to moving up in class in seeing the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia in addition to incoming new powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma.
Back in South Bend, the Fighting Irish promoted much-beloved defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman to head coach, much to the delight of players and fans. If reports out of South Bend are true, Kelly will not be missed by many, as his attitude rubbed many the wrong way and began to become a strain on those around the program.
How will Riley do out in Los Angeles?
That will be arguably the biggest question asked in the off-season, as he will have to learn and quickly recruit both the greater Los Angeles area, as well as the uber-rich Southern California region that already saw two LA products in Heisman Trophy finalists Bryce Young and CJ Stroud bolt to Alabama and Ohio State instead of staying home instead.
If Riley being able to flip 6’3 180-pound five-star QB Malachi Nelson out of Los Alamitos—the fifth overall recruit in the 2022 calls, per 247Sports—from Oklahoma to USC is a sign, then the Trojans’ future already looks bright.
While one cannot foresee what will happen in the future, don’t be too surprised to see Riley bring the Trojans back to national prominence faster than Kelly will down at LSU. Also, don’t be surprised to see Oklahoma and Notre Dame forge new identities and remain national title contenders under Freeman and Venebles as well.