Well that didn’t take long. The Nebraska football coaching search came to a prompt close on Thursday, as the Cornhuskers named Oregon State Beavers football coach Mike Riley the new Nebraska football coach.
Riley’s departure from Oregon State caught seemingly everyone, including his Beavers assistant coaches, off guard. Riley had been subject to numerous debates in recent weeks in Oregon, where OSU fans seemed evenly divided between calling for his ouster and renewing his contract.
As it turns out, the Nebraska football program didn’t want to take a chance that either of those would come to fruition. The Cornhuskers signed Riley to a five-year contract to coach the Nebraska football team for an average of $2.7 million per season.
Riley will leave the Oregon State football program for a second time as he becomes the new Nebraska football coach. Riley coached the Beavers for two seasons before bolting to the NFL to lead the San Diego Chargers in 2000. In 2003, Riley returned for his second stint with Oregon State, making him the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12.
However, Riley was also the lowest-paid coach in the Pac-12. His contract to be the new Nebraska football coach will certainly change that.
Riley is 93-80 all-time as a college coach, and he enjoyed winning seasons in eight of his previous 12 seasons at Oregon State. However, the OSU Beavers finished just 5-7 this season, losing Riley’s last game as the Beavers’ coach 47-19 to the Oregon Ducks.
Riley is one of the more understated and highly ethical head coaches in all of college football. A down-to-Earth guy, Riley prefers to use a pro-style offense and has a solid track record with developing excellent quarterbacks. The Midwest in general and Nebraska football in particular has gone years without a stand-out college quarterback. The hope in Cornhusker nation, of course, is that Riley’s presence will change that.
Riley coached many players at Oregon State who have gone on to enjoy careers in the NFL. On the quarterback front, he coached current NFLers Matt Moore and Derek Anderson. Sean Mannion, who started for the Beavers this season, leaves Oregon State as the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer.
Keep in mind, that’s a league that’s included such QBs as Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Joey Harrington and Akili Smith, and it’s home to potential 2014 NFL Draft pick Marcus Mariota. As the new Nebraska football coach, could an elite-level quarterback be in the Huskers’ future?
Before his coaching days, Riley was a defensive back with the Alabama Crimson Tide football team under Paul “Bear” Bryant.