It looks like USC used up their entire athletic budget on Lincoln Riley’s $100 million contract. The video of his introduction as the Trojans’ new head coach is making the Twitter rounds, an introduction that can truly only be described as a combination of an SNL skit, a vivid melatonin-induced dream, and a poorly planned flash mob. The unfortunate viewer is met with a small legion of members of the USC band, about a dozen brass players clad in uniform-mandated sunglasses, blaring the USC fight song directly at the camera. Stationed in what had to be a simply deafening position, three cheerleaders are dancing away in front of the band to choreography that vaguely resembles the kind of thing that you and your preteen cousins might make up in a suburban basement when it was past your bedtime but the adults were still upstairs drinking.
In the background of it all is Lincoln Riley and several members of the USC athletic department — far, far in the background, as perhaps the weirdest part of this whole thing is the angle of the video, in which you can barely make out Riley’s face and in which the cheerleaders frequently bounce in and out of frame. You never lose close sight of the trombone players, though, if that’s what you were worried about! He’s lined up behind a set of three podiums reminiscent of a 20th-century game show, watching the back of the performance that, unfortunately for everyone involved, goes on for an excruciating ninety seconds. Riley just stands there the entire time, probably wondering what the hell he got himself into and, like the rest of us, when the nightmare would end. He actually had to sit through it live and on camera. Almost kind of feel bad for the guy.
My estimate of the production cost of this event hovers right around $36.27, and for a university that’s supposed to have one of the best film schools in the country, it feels entirely off-brand, which may actually make it funnier. Props to you if you can sit through the entire video without physically cringing — I’ve watched it four times and still can’t keep a straight face. It’s also a poorly thought out choice when attempting to launch the rebrand for Trojan football, going back to its blue blood roots with Riley at the helm after a disastrous 4-8 season. If you can drop an easy hundred mil on the coaching contract, who the hell decided on this public access infomercial for the coach in question?
Maybe his speedy departure from OU didn’t leave any time for a run-through of the program that may have alerted the producers to some of the glaring flaws in the plan. This pep rally was perhaps not the most promising start to the Riley era at USC, and several people have pointed out the stark difference between this and Notre Dame’s introduction of their new head coach, Marcus Freeman, which also included the school band, but in a way that didn’t make you physically ill.
Riley’s sudden and unexpected departure from Oklahoma did not go over well, to put it lightly. He won’t be welcomed back in that state anytime soon, despite his various successes in his five seasons as head coach, especially as he continues to bring his entire staff to California with him. It was announced earlier this week that Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables would replace Riley as the head coach of the Sooners.