Lincoln Riley blasts Pac-12 over Christian Roland-Wallace suspension
Lincoln Riley said following USC’s 66-14 win over Nevada that defensive back Christian Roland-Wallace did not deserve the first-half suspension handed down to him by the Pac-12 for the game.
Roland-Wallace was ejected from Arizona’s win over Arizona State in the final game of the 2022 season after a fight broke out between the two rivals. Because of that ejection, it was believed he would need to sit the first half of USC’s game against San Jose State last week.
But the defensive back played a significant role in the Trojans’ Week 0 defense.
Riley was informed on Thursday that Roland-Wallace would have to sit.
Following Saturday’s game, Riley didn’t wait to blast the Pac-12 for its decision.
“We’ll get to the game after. We were very disappointed that the Pac-12 didn’t allow Christian Roland-Wallace to play in the first half of the game today,” Riley said. “Not one time in the offseason were we informed of a pending suspension.
“We became aware Thursday afternoon after a majority of the (Nevada game) preparation was already done.”
Riley said USC requested video of the incident and, from all the angles they looked at, they felt the ejection was “an incorrect call.”
When USC approached the Pac-12 with their concern over the decision, they were told it was too late to reverse the ruling.
“Whether he played or not is not the most important thing to me,” Riley said. “We’re gonna make sure that his reputation stays intact like it rightfully should.”
Asked if the Pac-12 gave any justification for why the suspension came in Week 1 rather than Week 0, Riley shrugged.
“I think it was an oversight,” he said. “Listen, with guys transferring, all that’s going on right now in the world, there’s gonna be mistakes made. We’re not perfect. I make plenty myself. I just think (I’m) disappointed that there aren’t mechanisms in place. And even if they’re not, sometimes you just do the right thing. I think the video was very apparent.
“You’ve got a senior here that’s busting his tail. We don’t get 60 games. You miss a half of ball, for a guy that wants to help his team, for a guy that wants to go play in the NFL, that’s a big deal.”
Riley made sure to say that he was not looking to send a message to the Pac-12, but that he wanted to make clear USC felt Roland-Wallace did not deserve to sit.
Roland-Wallace finished the game with two tackles for the Trojans.