A curious post-game decision by Caleb Williams made the USC quarterback a hot topic around the college football world on Saturday as Trojans’ woes continued to end the regular season.
USC’s 38–20 road loss to UCLA (7–4) capped a remarkable fall from grace for the program that will finish the year unranked for the first time under Lincoln Riley. Following the game, which some believe will be his last in college, USC announced Williams had “elected not to speak to the media.” The announcement led to an outpour of reactions to the junior standout’s actions on social media.
After starting the year 6–0, Riley, Williams and the Trojans went on to lose five of their last six outings, including three straight losses to close the season to finish 7–5. In that span, USC was outscored 258 to 190, while falling out of the AP Top 25 after struggling against the likes of top-ranked teams such as Washington and Oregon.
Given the circumstances, CFB fans and pundits were quick to criticize Williams for avoiding the media amid his team’s struggles, with some also criticizing Riley for allowing it to happen:
This is disappointing. USC football players have traditionally been so engaging with the media, a practiced skill set that has helped highlight many Trojans in their transition to the NFL. https://t.co/DMzHD1OREH
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) November 19, 2023
Lincoln is a poor mentor https://t.co/FJqSskscRq
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) November 19, 2023
If I’m an NFL team, how is some of the things we’ve seen lately not a red flag towards Caleb Williams?
— Michael Hauff (@TheFFRealist) November 19, 2023
Tell him it's a Wendy's spot. https://t.co/DLOGXz6lU9
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) November 19, 2023
This is not a good look for Caleb. True leaders take accountability even when it's hard too and you're in the face of adversity. If you're an NFL team, this has to raise a few red flags. https://t.co/TqS892X3eX
— Ashley Colley (@ashleycolley) November 19, 2023
His first pressers in the NFL are going to be a rude wake up call. Professionalism on USC’s part (& his) could have prevented that. https://t.co/TUenJw0Rqa
— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) November 19, 2023
Good work by Lincoln Riley setting the example for how to get ready for the NFL. https://t.co/iVjJfBQNEw
— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) November 19, 2023
Good luck trying that at the next level. https://t.co/2NYobGWS2U
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) November 19, 2023
I’ve been a Caleb defender, but there is a legitimate question to ask about mental toughness for the NFL. Facing the music is part of being a franchise QB. https://t.co/k469dCXgwd
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) November 19, 2023