Plaschke: Heat on Lincoln Riley and USC to earn a CFP spot

They have a millionaire coach who lives in a mansion.

They have a charismatic quarterback with a huddle stuffed with endorsements.

They are loaded with high-priced free brokers who got here right here for a likelihood to reap the rewards of Hollywood.

To no one’s shock, they’ve develop into Los Angeles’ hottest skilled soccer group, wealthy and rollicking and seemingly headed this winter for SoFi Stadium stardom.

The Rams? Think once more. The Chargers? Nice attempt.

It is, after all, the USC Trojans, school soccer’s merry band of opportunists who head into this season with stars of their eyes and a goal on their again.

Anything lower than a spot within the College Football Playoff simply will not do.

Even that may not be sufficient, simply hear to the person who began all this ruckus.

At Pac-12 media day Friday, I requested new USC coach Lincoln Riley for his expectations for this season.

“To win the championship,” he stated.

The championship. This season. Win it. OK!

The CFP title sport is at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 9, so, yeah, that is an extremely excessive and dramatic bar set by a 38-year-old dude who got here right here from Oklahoma eight months in the past and promptly turned a 4-8 group into the sport’s hottest vacation spot.

“We did not come right here to play for second, we’re not wired that means,” Riley stated. “We got here right here competitively to win championships, win them now and to win them for a very long time.”

A nation-leading 20 children have transferred to USC from different colleges. At least that many have been compelled out of this system. The cash is flowing, the guarantees are hovering, this system has been turned on its helmet, and you already know what which means.

The stress begins now. The honeymoon ends right here. Even earlier than the primary summer season follow sweat, the warmth is on.

“The actuality is that if there is not any stress, then you definitely most likely haven’t got the identical alternatives as others do,” Riley stated, including, “The alternative is, for those who do it properly, something is feasible. This is a type of locations. This is a type of packages. Frankly, that is a type of cities that for those who do it properly right here, the sky’s absolutely the restrict. I consider it is there for our soccer group.”

So a lot, so quick, so unnerving. Has there ever been a group on this city beneath extra deserved preseason scrutiny than this one? Has there ever been a school group anyplace that can enter a season with extra unearned swagger?

Should they win? No, they higher win. All this, and they’ve but to take an official snap.

“I’d reiterate once more, we did not come right here to play for second,” Riley stated.

It’s good that school athletes are lastly getting paid. It’s truthful that school athletes are lastly ready to switch and develop into instantly eligible. The school athletes have lengthy been the spine of this billion-dollar trade and deserve to be compensated for it. Whatever they get, they’ve earned it.

Yet it is a bit unsettling when this confluence of adjustments happens in such dramatic vogue at a place the place the drama has at all times been rooted in custom. Never have USC followers been requested to cheer for therefore many full strangers. Never earlier than has it been so abundantly clear that these strangers are solely right here for the cash and the soccer.

Fittingly, for the primary time in reminiscence, the 2 gamers USC introduced to Pac-12 media day to signify the college most likely nonetheless have hassle discovering their means round campus. They had been quarterback Caleb Williams and linebacker Shane Lee, two extremely touted transfers from Oklahoma and Alabama, respectively.

Said Lee: “Our focus is on getting the tradition proper.”

Said Williams: “USC is a blue blood, easy as that. Teams … have tough moments, that is what USC has had. We’re right here to attempt to flip that round.”

Williams is the centerpiece of the Trojans’ transforming and the very best instance of the brand new period. He is a switch from Oklahoma who already has a number of endorsement offers regardless of beginning solely eight school video games.

I requested what he would contemplate a profitable season.

“Win each sport,” he stated.

His most important goal will probably be Jordan Addison, a switch from Pittsburgh who was voted the nation’s greatest extensive receiver final season and now will probably be its greatest dressed. When Addison confirmed up, he requested for Carson Palmer’s retired No. 3 jerseys This put Palmer in an unattainable place. He may by no means say no, even when he needed to say no. So, with Palmer’s very public blessing, USC regrettably gave the child the quantity.

No, this isn’t the identical factor as former athletic director Mike Garrett giving Darnell Bing his No. 20 in 2005. It was Bing’s senior season, and Garrett thought-about it a reward for devoted service.

In Addison’s case, it feels extra like a recruiting software. He’ll play one yr right here and go to the NFL. The jersey giveaway appears like a direct hit on Trojan custom.

Imagine the elevated stress on Addison. He drops a ball sporting a Heisman Trophy jersey? The crowd will not be thrilled.

USC has one other nice switch extensive receiver in Oklahoma’s Mario Williams, and a nice switch operating again in Oregon’s Travis Dye. They ought to rating 50 factors a sport. Problem is, they might hand over 60.

Riley does not actually do protection. The numbers 54, 45, and 63 signify the factors scored by opponents in three of his 4 bowl video games at Oklahoma.

He hopes transfers like Lee, Arizona State’s Eric Gentry, Colorado’s Mekhi Blackmon and Auburn’s Romello Height will assist change that narrative.

But no one is aware of. Nobody has seen this remodeled-down-to-the-studs group in motion. In actuality, they’re certainly one of school soccer’s most unknown portions.

They should win anyway. Win huge. Win typically. Win that championship.

“My expectations are extraordinarily excessive,” stated Riley. “I imply, once more, that is a go-for-it form of place.”

This can also be a boo-at-it form of place. Kudos to the Trojans for going for it, however perceive one factor.

It will get actual ugly, actual fast, if they do not get there.

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