Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams star in a surreal USC Spring game

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LOS ANGELES – Imagine sitting in the stands absorbing sunburn at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on a Saturday in April just 196 days after sitting in the press box at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where DC man Caleb Williams ruled Oklahoma through Oklahoma-Texas hostilities along a screaming 54-48 track. Imagine the sky, not just cloudless, but the art form of cloudless, LA skyfritand the old hands from the 99-year-old colosseum, which reads about a quarter past noon, the old temperature gauge on the other side of the large facade moves past 70, but not near 80.

Now that Southern California is playing against Southern California in the spring game, here’s an excerpt from the speaker:

“Caleb Williams on goal …”

It is an epitome of the reality of the transfer era and a kind of fever dream.

Spring football, the eccentric pursuit in the midst of the broader eccentric pursuit known as college football, ended across most of the country this past weekend with public scrimmage matches, and the most feverish spring game must have been USC vs. USC.

Lincoln Riley, who is so familiar with Oklahoma, trained for the USC, vaguely known under his visor, while apparently being paid at the USC. Williams played for USC after the move from Oklahoma, and although he was not technically paid, he was the subject of a “sign-of-the-time out” on the field: “EXCLUSIVE CALEB WILLIAMS APPAREL AVAILABLE HERE.” Running back Travis Dye also played for USC, meaning quarterback who went 21 for 27 for the winner of the Alamo Bowl less than four months earlier (Williams, Oklahoma) and running back who rushed 153 yards after the loser (Dye, Oregon)) shares a backfield in neither Oklahoma nor Oregon.

Just to dream of full fever after the match, the greatest football player ever, Jerry Rice, entered the field here because…

His son Brenden plays for USC.

Brenden Rice, like Williams and Dye and 10 others, was transferred, meaning the Trojans have transfers from TCU, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Auburn, Stanford, Alabama, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma.

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“It’s a little shock to me,” Dye said, “because I got flashbacks to when I was in this Colosseum before,” such as when he won 55 yards and caught a four-yard touchdown pass for Oregon against USC in 2020. Pac-12 title game or when he won 75 yards in a happy 56-24 dunk in 2019, another time just ducky.

It’s different from Williams, who followed Riley here, and who threw two touchdown passes on Saturday to Mario Williams, who also followed Riley here, meaning a 19-year-old who jumped from DC to Norman to Los Angeles and threw to another 19-year-old who jumped from Tampa to Norman to Los Angeles.

“This communication with ‘Rio,’ said Caleb Williams, ‘as we all know, it goes back to the old school we were at.’

Now in the fever dream, their country needs them – and their communication – because they may have a chance to give some geographical variation to a College Football Playoff that has stalled with three out of eight title fights between Alabama and Clemson and two more between Alabama and Georgia, making national championships seem less national.

Came surreal Saturday, the audience size seemed blazed early. It did not seem to match the fervor known since Riley’s fantastic registration on November 28, and it did not seem like a threat to meet a parlor game and match the lowest home game sum of the regular season during the desperate 4-8 last season, which is spread 51,564 for a 45-27 loss to Oregon State.

But they leaked and at times maybe even cascaded in, 33,427 of them, at least something of a tale of how tension can build up in America when a guy from Muleshoe moves from Oklahoma to California. (It’s Riley, with Muleshoe in Texas, near the border with New Mexico.)

In a feverish moment, athletic director Mike Bohn appeared on the big screen in the middle of the game, saying, “You are part of what we believe is the largest audience in spring ball history since the 1990s.” It was not rated with the 40,000 or so for nongame up in Oregon on Saturday or 75,000 or so for nongame in Oklahoma, but this is Los Angeles, famously rich in opportunities and famously indifferent to non-winners.

So the people who had not been dug elsewhere in boxes of jerseys and what was now at a surplus sale in the hall, where a man reported 30 percent savings above the norm, although jerseys in general have never been more volatile. They made a thick passage of a section behind one side of the stadium between some taco stands and some toilets. They ordered from food trucks such as the Lebanese Pickles and Peas, or they sat and watched in their old jerseys of Lynn Swann, Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush – shirts that say from the audience: “You really should win.”

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In a helmet with Trojan feathers provisionally on top went the rare form of USC fan: a newly won one. Miguel Cervantes has an excuse for that: He’s in USC’s Master’s degree in Veterans. He feels “super pumped” and said: “I can feel the energy difference from last year to this year – a huge change.”

Down on the field after the break, quarterback Miller Moss, a Los Angeles rookie who has not been transferred, threw a beautiful 48-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Ford, a red shirt junior from greater Los Angeles who has not been transferred.

Eventually, the players signed autographs on the field and walked down the tunnel to the interview site, five of them at one point, shoulder to shoulder and including three transfers, Caleb Williams and Dye and Shane Lee, a former Alabama linebacker who said, “It has been great to see the progress since I came here. ”

As they spoke, a mind long filled with college football could struggle to remember where all they had been, a very kinetic generation, and all the wiser about it. When they talk about building a culture, they are talking about rapid construction. “We have worked ours [rear] beyond the last 4½ months, “Riley said while still 38,” to build a culture and build a standard for our program that we believe in. “He noted that they would need more players on way, but he said, “The point really needs to be understood: The guys we have right now have laid the foundation. The guys we have right now, we’re excited about. “

As Riley left the room, Caleb Williams continued on culture for impressive paragraphs instead of one-off lines, his voice now old enough for everyone to hear (as opposed to being a freshman under interview restrictions in Oklahoma). He said, “A big part of it is being coachable, and sometimes you just have to eat it,” and he explained how “elite teams are led by the players, held accountable by the players.”

They’re on the management board, so Moss said, “Like someone who was here last year and went through it, I do not think we lacked the players and the personalities in the locker room to have good leadership. I just think there was not “A forum that promoted leadership. I think with coach Riley and his staff coming in, we’ve got, so to speak, a playbook on how to do it and structure it.”

Maybe they, like Oregon or Utah or someone fresh, will up and help the country as a whole. Spring games are always full of dreams, even if they are confusing.

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