Brandon Sosna, instrumental in Lincoln Riley hiring, leaving USC for Detroit Lions

USC football coach Lincoln Riley shares a laugh with Brandon Sosna at a game.
USC football coach Lincoln Riley, right, shares a laugh with Brandon Sosna during a USC men’s basketball game March 1.
(Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After helping rebuild its athletics operation and playing a major role in the hiring of Lincoln Riley, one of USC’s top administrators is on his way to the NFL to take on another rebuild.

Brandon Sosna, who joined USC in late 2019 as its chief of staff for athletics, is joining the front office of the Detroit Lions.

Sosna had earlier turned down an opportunity from the Lions, interviewing with the team last August, just weeks before USC fired Clay Helton and launched a nationwide search for a new football coach. Sosna, whose responsibilities included overseeing the football program, played a significant part in that process and USC eventually reeled in Riley, one of the top coaches in college football.

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USC made a concerted effort to keep Sosna this time, too, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak on the matter publicly. But the pull of the NFL and the potential of one day becoming an NFL general manager proved too much for USC.

Sosna came to USC with athletic director Mike Bohn from Cincinnati, where they’d worked together for four years. He’d play a major role then in hiring football coach Luke Fickell, who led the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff last fall.

In the middle of that stint in Cincinnati, Sosna had already left once for the NFL, working with the Cleveland Browns during the 2017 and 2018 seasons under then-general manager John Dorsey. In that role, he assisted in managing the salary cap, negotiating contracts and developing player valuations and free agency market analyses.

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Dorsey joined the Lions in January 2021. Less than two years later, he lured Sosna back to the NFL.

At USC, Sosna helped modernize and transform a department that was in desperate need of new infrastructure when Bohn arrived in the fall of 2019. He was promoted during that time to executive senior associate athletic director.


Now he’s off to the NFL, where he’ll be tasked with helping transform one of the league’s most moribund franchises: The Lions were 3-13-1 last season and haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 5, 1991.