Mike Riley’s tenure as the head coach of Nebraska Football was eventful.
So much was made of Mike Riley’s job security even in year one.
Announcer Dave Pasch who called the Nebraska vs Michigan State game, brought up the Husker fans’ frustration about how the season had played out thus far. Some fans believed Riley shouldn’t get more than one season to prove himself. Pasch later in the broadcast mentioned that firing Riley after one lone season was ridiculous, so I thought I’d reflect on the hiring.
The hire of Mike Riley was a perplexing one for many within Husker Nation. The hire blindsided many as his name hadn’t come up in being in consideration for the position until after he was hired.
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A name that got thrown around quite a bit throughout the coaching search was then-Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema, who had two different stints at Big Ten foe Wisconsin, once as a defensive coordinator and another as head coach. Here was a guy that knew what to expect in the Big Ten. Like it or not, Wisconsin has been able to establish a level of winning consistency within the conference both then and now. Nebraska should have only aspired to achieve something similar to that when making their hire.
Instead, a West Coast guy with an okay resume from a winning standpoint got the nod.
I’ll be honest; I remember sitting in my dorm room hearing the hire announced, and I thought to myself, “Who is this guy?” Forgive me; I wasn’t old enough to remember his three seasons as head coach of the then-San Diego Chargers. I knew he had some eye for talent as guys like Steven Jackson and Brandin Cooks played for him at Oregon State and had gone on to make names for themselves at the pro level. Outside of that, Oregon State was definitely not a consistent contender in the Pac 10/12 throughout his tenure.
That is when it hit me, Nebraska is not a top 10, maybe not even a top 20 job in the country anymore.
With all that said, I embraced him even though I thought he was doomed from the start. After the Callahan era, most developed little patience for outside hires.
For me, he was the right guy at the time. He brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position, unlike anything Nebraska, had seen in a while. I thought he should have got another shot after year three, had Scott Frost not been available when he was. It is not every day that Nebraska has the opportunity to snatch up the most highly sought-after coach on the market.
If Frost somehow wasn’t available when he was or chose to go elsewhere, how do you give up on a guy after only three years?
However, things worked out for the best as now Nebraska has someone in charge that puts the fans at ease, and they will hopefully give him ample time to restore the program into a winner once again.