Lincoln Riley isn’t altering transfer portal recruiting that irked Pat Narduzzi
Ryan Kartje (LA Times) — Since he was first handed the reins of a USC roster in desperate need of a rebuild, Lincoln Riley was clear about his intentions regarding the NCAA transfer portal. He planned to use it voraciously, turning over nearly half the program by mining the portal like arguably no coach has before.
“I’d say we’re open for business on all accounts,” Riley declared in December.
He has essentially cornered the transfer market since, reeling in 15 new USC players, including two in the past week alone. But Riley’s aggressive approach amid the changing marketplace has also ruffled feathers, first across the state of Oklahoma and now in Western Pennsylvania, where the potential transfer of college football’s top receiver has sparked accusations of tampering.
Jordan Addison had yet to enter the portal when ESPN reported Friday night that the All-American receiver was mulling the possibility of leaving Pittsburgh for USC. The scenario was apparently dire enough to Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi that he called Riley multiple times Friday to express his discontent. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh officials told ESPN and the Athletic they suspected USC had tampered with their star receiver.
USC officials wouldn’t comment on the accusations. Addison has until Sunday to decide whether he’ll officially enter the transfer portal. If he does, the intrigue surrounding USC’s likely pursuit of the top receiver is sure to deepen further.
The initial connection between Addison and USC, according to a person familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly about it, stems from a prior relationship with Caleb Williams, the Trojans new quarterback, who also hails from the Washington D.C. area. It’s not uncommon for other college football players to try and convince their peers to transfer. That, on its face, doesn’t constitute tampering.
Similar accusations from fans across Oklahoma followed Williams on his way to USC. The sophomore quarterback entered the transfer portal a month after Riley left Oklahoma, only to join Riley at USC a month after that. Two other Sooners also followed, leaving many in the state upset with Riley’s transfer recruiting tactics.
“We didn’t take players from Oklahoma, we took players from the transfer portal,” Riley said in a February radio interview with Colin Cowherd, rankling fans even further. “Once a player gets in a portal and they are open to any school in the country, we would be crazy to not look at it and now help our football team.”
If he does enter the portal, there are few receivers in the nation capable of aiding an offense more than Addison. As a sophomore, he caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and a nation-leading 17 touchdowns on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top wideout.
Receiver isn’t an immediate need for USC after a strong spring at the position. The Trojans have already added three transfer receivers through the portal in Mario Williams, Brenden Rice and Terrell Bynum. But they would happily accept another if Addison, one of the top playmakers in college football, becomes available.
Riley has promised that plenty more transfers will be added ahead of the fall. Already this week, USC has secured a freshman All-American linebacker in Eric Gentry (9) from Arizona State, as well as Ohio State safety Bryson Shaw, who finished third on the Buckeyes defense in tackles in 2021. Both could play major roles next season.
Hovering around 75 scholarship players, USC can afford to add at pretty much any position. The Trojans had just two scholarship quarterbacks and three running backs in the spring. It has limited depth on its offensive or defensive lines. Its secondary was down to just four healthy cornerbacks by the end of the spring and four of its five rush linebackers moved from different positions ahead of spring.
“There’s not a position on defense where we wouldn’t entertain the opportunity, at minimum in the name of competition and in other scenarios an opportunity to see the field right away,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “It’s an opportunity that wasn’t presented to us in years past, so we’ll be active.”
Could that include the pursuit of a certain All-American receiver? Perhaps. But beyond another top talent emerging unexpectedly, USC won’t add just anyone through the portal.
“The team, all of us, everybody is very aware we need to add some roster spots. It’s obvious, there’s no two ways about it,” Riley said this spring. “They’re going to be vetted by our staff. They’re going to be vetted by our current players. We’re looking for guys who are going to come in and add to that culture.”
Colin Cowherd this morning —
“By the way, there are a lot of things happening with USC football, and you don’t know what’s happening yet. Give it about 12 months, and you’re gonna see a major announcement about USC football. You’re not gonna believe it, and it’s all gonna make sense. I’ll just leave it at that.”
I love pronouncements like this. They say nothing and promise something at the same time. If anything happens Colin can take credit and say I told you so. And if nothing out of the ordinary happens he can count on the reality that none of us will remember his all knowing pronouncement from May 2, 2022. But when he has to fill 4 hours of radio 5 days a week not everything Colin says can be expected to be pithy. And I say this as a guy who watches the Herd as often as I can.
Colin gets plenty wrong, which he freely acknowledges, and every week he segments an entire well-promoted presentation about “What Colin Got Right, What Colin Got Wrong.” As a Cowherd fan (it seems), you know this. Me, I’m expecting some awesome USC football announcement in about a year! He was very blatant and giddy about this. If it doesn’t go down as Cowherd predicted, I’m sure he’ll get into his right/wrong schtick, where he wins with his audience anyway because he explains what the heck happened. At least that’s always been my perception, which is one reason I always like to… Read more »
What could it be we won’t believe it but it makes sense? USC leaving the Pathetic 12 and along with UCLA, joining the Big Ten making it a coast to coast conference? Or the SEC? This is the University of “Southern” California. Or go independent with a TV contract in its hip pocket? Who knows what Cowherd thinks he knows.
It’s a pretty major tease. But that’s USC football nowadays. A little good news every day, and sometimes a lot.
Top Dog/re-emerging gridiron power USC dragging along the always mediocre little gutties has a logical look to it.
Maybe USC can leave UCLA behind and play them as a out-of-conference city rival?
I still don’t see USC as an independent for so many reasons. Maybe with LR it would be possible? The LR Honeymoon lives on!
I may be kicking a hornets nest. But anyone have any ideas why none of the reporters, bloggers and websites that follow SC football have not listed a single name of any player that entered the portal by May 1. I know that official processing and notification of portal entrants takes a little time. Even so , don’t you think one of the reporters would have had at least one
player tell them they had entered the portal.?
I go to 247Sports, they have the latest portal entries, here’s the link:
Thanks GT. I look at 247/Rivals & ON3 and they usually have a lot of good info.. As of this morning not a single listing of Trojans who have entered the portal. I am sure we will hear soon enough, but is just seems odd that no names have been reported yet.
Since schools have 2 days to process the paperwork they may not show up on a web site till tonight or tomorrow morning. Addison should make headlines as soon as it goes through the portal.
speaking of which, I just refreshed 247 and Addison is up there!
Hilarious, Addison, awarded the best WR in College Football is rated a 4*!
Here’s Brian Dohn’s (247Sports.com) prep eval on Addison, originally from Frederick, MD. I hope LR reels him in, which would be just another huge statement that USC is taking no prisoners in their monumental rebuild. “Wiry frame with need to add muscle mass. Can play in slot and wide. Great hands and strong route runner. Gets out of breaks well and locates ball quickly. Athletic, explosive and runs well. Legit 4.51 in 40. A big-play threat. Excellent ball skills. Fearless catching ball in traffic. Releases well off LOS. Dangerous after the catch. Great body control. Excels on crossing routes. Has… Read more »
Now with LR running the show and dictating USC’s return to power, I bet the Trojans currently on the roster are doing whatever they can to stick. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it until more USC players start jumping into the Portal. LR seems pretty happy with the way things are shaping up for the Trojans. It’s the “perfect storm” for USC to create a uniquely great roster. “Everyone had to make a choice to be here. This is a bonding point,” says LR, who also seems to have a knack for saying the right thing at the… Read more »
Allen, I think you have nailed it. The kids still in the program want a piece of the action. And, they are getting first class coaching and first class competition and first class accountability for the first time in each’s time at SC. They are going to give it their all to stick with this team. After all, SC has one of the two best QBs in college ball. The only other QB at Caleb’s level is the soph at tOSU (Stroud). This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. The kids get to find out just how good they… Read more »
Just checked 247sports—-Elijah Winston now listed in the portal.
2018 4-star LB/EDGE Elijah Winston (6-3, 230, redshirt SR) from Portland Central Cath, OR. CAREER: He has 10 tackles, with 1 for a loss of 2 yards, in his career. He has appeared in 13 games, with 1 start. 2022: Winston, who moved from ILB to rush end in spring of 2022, will battle for playing time as a redshirt SR 2021: Winston appeared in 3 games (STAN, ARIZ, ASU) as a backup ILB as a redshirt JR in 2021. He made 1 tackle (versus ARIZ) in 2021. 2020: Winston was expected to battle for playing time at ILB as a soph in 2020, but he… Read more »
Sensing we may have seen the best of what the Portal will offer until the season is over, for Riley it might be about dealing with depth issues with 2nd/3rd string ability players looking to hook up with a name program that will give them playing time. It gets tricky now who you bring in that you might be able to develop some overachiever to at least hold his own?
Lincoln Riley Likes the USC Bond, as well as the Brand: Riley — “Everybody had to make a choice to be here, and a lot of people gave up things, sacrificed things to be here — and for one true common reason, which is we all believe in USC. And we all believe in what this football program can be. “We all believe in the opportunities, and probably the most unique setting that exists in college football. It’s like you have a bonding point right there. I mean, you don’t have to question anybody that is in this program right… Read more »
“Former USC great Matt Leinart is partnering with current Trojans’ quarterback Caleb Williams to launch Hall of GOATs, an NFT platform for amateur athletes to build their personal brands and boost their NIL value through digital collectibles…”
Is Jordan Addison Watching…
According to BroBible, Pitt has 2 days to file the paperwork. So Addison could appear in the Portal as late as tomorrow night. Then the bidding will start at $2 million+ for his service. USC, Alabama and Pitt in the hunt.
So Wednesday morning the narrative will be about Riley accusing Pitt of interference because they closed their office early or the team took Addison out to paint the town red on Sunday evening.
I’ve made this joke on a couple of less serious blogs, but here I doubt that Riley has done anything other than play by the rules (as lose as they may seem to be) If he doesn’t know better than to not get “caught” breaking the rules, he’s in the wrong building.
Rialto, My guess is that Addison hired an agent and the agent, not the kid, has been shopping him. Coaches do this all the time. Are you telling me that a coach does not want to be contacted for a better job? They do this by using agents. Why shouldn’t the players have the same ability to shop markets for better money as the coaches do? If I have this right, Narduzzi has zero legs to stand on. If Narduzzi has any brains, he will let the kid go. If he gets into a bidding war, it will destroy his… Read more »
I had overlooked that Narduzzi snatched up Kedon Slovis right off the bat. Good point. It must be incredibly tough for him to sit back and watch USC slap his program around in public by possibly stealing a Biletnikoff winner from his squad. Cruel world.
Scott Schrader (WeAreSC.com) — “Addison has an agency in southern California handling his NIL Business. They represent NFL athletes Derek Carr, Alex Mack, Ian Book and others.
“Saturday evening there was a photo of Addison at the Las Vegas airport. WeAreSC learned yesterday afternoon. that Addison was in “Sin City” until Sunday night. But there were reports he was in Los Angeles on April 30. Perhaps the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner possesses skills we’re unaware of?”
I believe Slovis got a NIL deal in Pittsburgh maybe his girlfriend as well (she is on the soccer team).
From what I read coaches can’t recruit a player to transfer but other players and anyone else outside the university can. Certainly a Bilitnekoff winner is going to have an agent shop around.
How do you break rules that don’t exist? Where are Socrates and Plato when you need them?
USC Men (86-76) and Women (81-80) beat UCLA in Track & Field at Loker Stadium.
Watch this incredible effort by USC’s Jan’Taijah Ford to win the Women’s 4X400 relay. Ford had a stupendous anchor leg of 51.48, taking the stick roughly a full three seconds behind and somehow running down the Bruin at the wire and as it turned out, giving the Trojans another coveted USC/UCLA Dual Meet victory.
Poor little gutty, she thought she had the race in the bag! Fight On Jan’Taijah Ford!
Ron Cook: Hard to blame Pitt’s Jordan Addison if he transfers
I just read this, and hadn’t given LR credit for this before:
“Riley’s system is made for great players to put up gaudy statistics and it lands them in the NFL. CeeDee Lamb racked up 1,327 receiving yds and 14 TDs during the 2019 season at OU, later being selected 17th overall by the Dallas Cowboys.
“A year prior, Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown turned a 1,318-yd campaign at OU into first-round money as the 25th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Allen, I first wonder where the money is coming from? I have not heard that SC has a NIL PAC like other schools. Have you heard anything? My guess is Addison hired an agent who shopped for him. And, my guess is the NIL money is coming from companies that are national brands. If I have this right, SC is a much better brand than Pitt and in a much larger market. Thus, for a marketer, you would want to pay for the kid to be associated with the est brand in a market which makes the most sense to… Read more »
I haven’t specifically followed the development of NIL funding groups in general. Obviously, there’s a lot of money out there. How do you think USC was able to suddenly come up with the biggest contract for LR? Those big donor dollars were all being withheld during the prolonged Helton USC Torture Chamber period. I love the way LR is approaching the rebuilding of USC, and his killer instinct. While this Wild West transfer euphoria still exists, he’s just pedal to the metal. Narduzzi’s butt hurt, but who cares? Hopefully, Addison ditches the Panthers today, adding yet another notch to LR’s… Read more »
2023 three-star S Christian Pierce (6-2, 180) from Rancho Cucamonga, committed to USC today over UCLA and UW. Schools like MICH, ORE and UTAH also offered.
Christian Pierce on USC commitment
Drake London, No. 15 at USC, will sport the No. 5 for his rookie season. Reggie Bush wore No. 5 at USC, but switched to 22 and 25 in the NFL. Bush played 11 seasons in the NFL, but the last three not very productively. Falcons owner Arthur Smith: “We’re obviously excited. (London is) a good player. We have a good vision for him. He has to go out there and earn it, but we are excited. He’ll come in here, and he’ll add a lot to this offense and help us be more efficient. Obviously, we need to get more explosive,… Read more »
Sure Jordan Addison gained notoriety & success playing on the Pitt team last season. He has been growing in accomplishment the last season & a half. But when you lose your QB, your OC & position coach and you the star are not comfortable with their replacements, does Pitt HC Narduzzi really think this is about USC tampering with his star receiver or is he Narduzzi unable to keep Addison concerned this next season might be a bust at Pitt? This is as much about he & Addison as it is anything else. If Riley wasn’t using the Portal aggressively,… Read more »
What intrigues me is the reference to LR taking “multiple calls” from Narduzzi expressing his displeasure. You’d think one conversation would be all you’d need to iron this out. Maybe I’m over-inflating the meaning of extra calling. But I thought it showed that Narduzzi had a lot to get off his chest.
It’ll be interesting to hear from Addison, if he ever comes out on this.
Today is the last day for him to enter the Portal. I can’t verify if he has actually entered or not. Does anyone know?
Good evening Jamaica. Narduzzi is definitely not the only coach complaining about the portal and more importantly tampering. I have hear numerous coaches, reporters and former players say that behind the scenes everybody is talking about the portal. They all think it is out of control but they know if they do no t work the portal their program is going to be left behind. You are right, Narduzzi is experiencing sour grapes. But he is one of the few coaches whose complaining has been made public. The portal is the wild Wild West.