USC's Lincoln Riley talks leaving Oklahoma: 'This was just too good to pass up'

Riley took the USC job in November

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USC football coach Lincoln Riley stunned the college football world when he bolted Oklahoma to take the Trojans job.

Riley opened up again Friday about his decision to leave Oklahoma in an interview on ESPN’s "College Gameday."

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New USC football head coach Lincoln Riley during a news conference in the 1923 Club at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

New USC football head coach Lincoln Riley during a news conference in the 1923 Club at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

"I don’t know if I can describe how hard it was. The people there that you love, the relationships, all the great memories — that was the hard part," he said.

"This was the right thing for my family, for me. It was just the right place at the right time. Really had no hesitation about that part of it. … This was just too good to pass up."

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A large screen at the Los Angeles Coliseum display a photo of the new USC football head coach Lincoln Riley, with downtown Los Angeles in the background on Nov. 29, 2021.

A large screen at the Los Angeles Coliseum display a photo of the new USC football head coach Lincoln Riley, with downtown Los Angeles in the background on Nov. 29, 2021. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Riley decided to take the USC job after Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma State in late November, according to multiple reports. Riley had previously been linked to NFL jobs and other college football positions. He shot down a rumor on Saturday that he was interested in the LSU job. He said he was "not going to be the next coach at LSU." 

Riley took over as Oklahoma’s head coach before the 2017 season. He led the Sooners to three College Football Playoff appearances but never managed to win a game in the tournament. His teams saw the emergence of two Heisman Trophy winners – Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Both players were No. 1 draft picks as well.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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He was 55-10 as a head coach and won four Big 12 championships.