Three months after a fellow coach accused him of tampering with the top wideout in college football, Lincoln Riley finally got the chance to publicly defend himself against those allegations Friday.
In his first Pac-12 media day as USC’s coach, Riley wrote off allegations that the Trojans tampered with Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, offering an impassioned defense of his own integrity when asked about claims levied by Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi last April.
“When someone challenges that with no facts and only emotion, do you take it personally? Absolutely you do,” Riley said. “I understand this is an emotional time. It’s an emotional game with a lot of emotional people. We recruited Jordan just like we did every other transfer. Jordan got in the transfer portal. Jordan came on a visit to USC. Despite all the negative things that were put out magically by somebody, he’s a kid that’s all about ball.”
An ESPN report claimed Narduzzi called Riley several times in late April to express his displeasure with the coach, whom he believed was recruiting Addison to join USC before the wideout officially entered the NCAA transfer portal May 3.
The accusations followed Addison, amid swirling rumors about multimillion-dollar NIL deals awaiting the wideout at USC. Addison visited both Texas and USC and committed to the Trojans on May 19, as many expected.
“All he wanted to do his entire visit was talk ball,” Riley said. “We literally missed several of the meals and entertainment we had scheduled just so we could watch more film and talk more ball. That’s all he’s about. I think he’s been really, really misrepresented throughout this whole thing.”
Many suspected his arrival came with a promised payday attached. But USC quarterback Caleb Williams, another transfer whose arrival inspired his own share of wild NIL rumors, joined his coach Friday in fervently denying that was the case with Addison, with whom he already had a relationship by virtue of their upbringing in the D.C. area.