There’s a misconception that USC spent the first few months of the Lincoln Riley era pulling a gold bus across the country buying college football stars at every stop. As of May 2, the Trojans rank second on 247 Sports. Transfer Team Ranking, but most of these student-athletes are easily replaceable cogs in the constantly grinding cogs of their previous programs. They’ll just lift a four-star recruit into the lineup without batting an eyelid. Over 90 percent of USC’s incoming transfers are seniors or graduate students hoping to tuck into day two or three of the 2023 draft. The only one who isn’t is quarterback Caleb Williams, who followed Riley from Oklahoma.
However, USC’s alleged stalking of a player who isn’t even on the transfer portal has sparked Pittsburgh’s inferiority complex and is the latest bullet point for those who believe the NILE era is a plague for college football. Every time a celebrity player goes in search of greener fields, the entire fan base dips into a bottle of Jim Beam. That time may have come for the Pittsburgh Panthers in regards to Jordan Addison.
It’s common knowledge by now that Pittsburgh’s junior receiver is considering taking his talent to Venice Beach and joining Riley at USC. Although he is not yet officially on the transfer portal, he had until May 1st to submit a written request for access to the portal and transfer without requiring a waiver of eligibility to play in the fall. The school has two days to complete the paperwork, which is due to make its entry on the portal official by Tuesday.
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Not many receivers of Addison’s caliber retire after a season in which they compiled 100 receptions, 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is set to defend his Biletnikoff title and be selected in the first round next year. From Addison’s perspective, his stock has never been higher, but he’s losing his starting quarterback in Kenny Pickett, who went to the Steelers in the first round of last week’s draft, as well as his wide receivers coach, who went to Texas. And because he plays off the beaten path at Pitt, he’s appreciated behind receivers who have been less productive than he was in 2021.
Addison finished the season ranked 98th as a player On3 ZERO 100 with a NIL rating of $139,000 but ranks below a number of recipients from the states of Ohio, Alabama, Penn State, Texas A&M, Texas and Florida. Dozens of players watch their draft stocks plummet due to random factors each year. Addison can’t be blamed for wanting to maximize his earnings in the present and protect his draft stock by seeking a more capable quarterback. The anger over Addison’s USC rumors is understandable, but it also reflects what college coaches have been doing in their own interest for years, jumping from program to program.
However, his coach Pat Narduzzi has made Addison and USC extremely uncomfortable He reportedly dials Riley confronting him about allegations that he was personally involved in recruiting Addison, a no-go. At the same time, Pitt officials have been spreading rumors that USC was rigging by recruiting Addison with NIL batter before he entered the portal. Addison’s visit to Los Angeles last week turned the intrigue up tenfold. The reports from $3 million in NIL deals That its $179,000 valuation has dwarfed the mind, but this is the open market. You’re underpaid until you’re overpaid. There really is no middle ground.
Narduzzi and Pitt’s envy has been voiced by dozens of coaches across the country. An 11-3 Pitt season felt like the kind of breakthrough year to build on after dancing on a pin for six years and barely qualifying for bowl games. Addison’s transfer coupled with Pickett’s graduation would be a double punch in the gut. Pitt’s donor collectives, unlike USCs, are not as willing to spend that kind of dough on a player. That should be Narduzzi’s frustration, not Riley’s.
While Narduzzi practiced his impression of Detective Benoit Blanc and focused on Riley as the tampering suspect, there are many speculations that fellow DMV Caleb Williams is the one channeling back for Addison. In any case, Narduzzi’s outrage has focused on Riley, who has become a boogeyman for coaches across the country since Williams followed his lead to USC.
As painful as this transition period may be for experienced coaches, they have to face the reality that this is what a level playing field looks like with players. As hard as it is for Pitt and Panthers fans to lose Addison, college coaches have done so for decades, and yet the sport has survived well. If USC were interested in Narduzzi as a coach and offered him a raise, he would be on the first private jet to LA
This sport has always been more cutthroat than Vito Corleone. Think how difficult it was for non-Power Five conference programs to have their program architects poached by larger schools, and then watch as many of them are discarded and bought up when they couldn’t reproduce that formula? What Addison is doing is no worse than Brian Kelly brokering a deal with LSU during the season. These high-profile coaches need to keep that in mind the next time a sports director or executive search firm comes by with an offer they can’t refuse.