Paul Finebaum believes it is just a matter of time until Lincoln Riley is out at USC. In fact, the popular SEC Network host predicted Riley will leave the Trojans following the 2024 season, one way or another.

In a Monday morning segment with “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning,” Finebaum reflected on Riley’s success at Oklahoma before bolting for the USC job. Finebaum said Riley “just clearly tucked and ran” from the Sooners after a string of success that included 3 trips to the College Football Playoff and a pair of Heisman winners.

Overall, Finebaum sees some “bad luck” already catching up to Riley and said the amount of players leaving USC is “startling.” It adds up to Riley not looking like the caliber of coach he was regarded as during his tenure at Oklahoma.

“I always thought he was a really good coach, especially on the offense side, but I don’t think anybody today views him in that same realm. And quite frankly, I think he’ll be out of Southern Cal at the end of the season,” predicted Finebaum.

“It’s a matter of whether it crashes and burns or he decides he needs to seek elsewhere. I don’t think there’s any way he is going to be successful out there. I think that train has pulled out of the station, and if indeed that does happen, this is one of the most historic crash and burns in the history of modern college football because 5 years ago Lincoln Riley was really considered one of the top 5 coaches in the country.”

Remarkably, these comments come as Riley embarks on his 3rd season in LA, but Finebaum has a point. After all, Riley was hailed as the savior of the Trojans after Clay Helton’s tenure, and expectations were high after an 11-win debut at USC.

Instead of fulfilling those expectations, the Trojans regressed to 8-5 behind a disastrous defense and were unable to capitalize on the generational talents of Caleb Williams. If things go south once again in 2024 (USC has the 5th-best Big Ten Championship odds), it’s possible Riley is indeed on thin ice and makes the decision himself to head for other opportunities.

Either way, it’s shaping up to be an interesting season for the Trojans, all while the program makes the jump into the new-look Big Ten.