Lincoln Riley is set for pastures new at the University of Southern California, but why has the Oklahoma coach decided to leave Oklahoma?

In his time as coach of Oklahoma, Riley has emerged as one of the strongest young coaches in the football system.

He took charge in 2017, and has taken charge of 53 games for the Sooners, winning 45 of them.

The 38-year-old has picked up four Big 12 championships in his tenure, including in his maiden season in 2017.

And for good measure, both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray picked up the Heisman Trophy for the efforts under Riley in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

As one of the brightest coaches, Riley’s services have been long-sought after, but why has he opted to leave Oklahoma for Southern California?

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Lincoln Riley decides to leave Oklahoma

In short, the decision to leave is Riley’s alone, with him saying he believed it was time for a fresh challenge.

“This was a personal decision solely based on my willingness to go take on a new challenge,” he explained in a statement.

“I felt like it was the right opportunity for me and my family to do that.

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“Leaving OU was probably the most difficult decision of my life.

“It is one of the best college football programs in the country, and it has been forever. That is not going to change.

“It has stood the test of time and will continue to do so, it is not going to change with another head coach.”

Change of scene for Riley

When he starts in his new job, Riley will be switching across to the PAC-12 Conference.

The PAC-12 teams compete at the highest level of college football.

He replaces Clay Helton in the hot-seat at USC, who was sacked in September after an indifferent tenure.

Helton has since moved on to Georgia Southern.

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

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