Monday, March 09, 2015

A Few Thoughts on The Massive Biography on Mike Riley

Yesterday's biographical feature by Dirk Chatelain was very thorough and well researched, though I have one minor issue with it.  And, of course, me being a blogger, I have a couple of opinions on it as well. I throw a lot of criticism towards Chatelain's work when he tries to analyze games or (even worse) play with statistics.  But he does features amazingly well...and this is no exception.

I do have one criticism of Chatelain's article, and it hits home to me.  I also write for, which is part of the SB Nation network of sports blogs.  Jon Johnston, the managing editor for CornNation, points out that Chatelain interviewed Andy Wooldridge, the managing editor for SB Nation's Building the Dam, yet never mentions the site. No link...just a reference to a "fan site."  I get that many of us bloggers do this as a hobby, and for Chatelain, this is a full-time profession. But if you are going to use a blogger as a reference, at least reference his work so that your audience can further evaluate his credibility.  Not doing so was disrespectful of not only his source, but also his readers.

BTW, if you want to read more about Wooldridge's thoughts on Mike Riley, CN's Brian Towle published a Q&A with him back in December.

So what are my takeaways from the Riley biography?  He's a fascinating guy, and no doubt in my mind, he's going to be a fan favorite initially.  He's easy going and genuine.  I can see why a lot of people like him.

But...and here's the concern, and Chatelain points it out.  He left Oregon State because his program was struggling. His offensive scheme seemed to be out of date, and his defenses weren't that great either. Reportedly, the athletic director wasn't happy, and was looking to restructure contracts moving forward to limit Oregon State's financial commitment, should Riley not be able to turn the program around.  Assistant coaches were going on year-to-year contracts, and Riley's automatic rollover was being eliminated.

Yes, Oregon State was preparing to dismiss Mike Riley and his staff. Not this year.  Probably next year or the year after.

Funny thing happened a few hours later.  Shawn Eichorst calls Riley and within hours, offers him the job at Nebraska. What probably started out as one of Riley's worst days rebounded to be one of his best...  you get a really, really bad job review that calls into question your future, and suddenly a new, even better job appears out of the blue.

There shouldn't be any question as to why Mike Riley left Oregon State. His time was up there.  Why are he and his assistants so happy to be in Lincoln? Because the buzzards were circulating, and their job security was on the line.  Suddenly, they all got big raises and a fresh start.  Of course they are extremely happy to be in Lincoln.  They literally won the lottery.

Many people want to point to Oregon State's relative lack of resources as a reason why Mike Riley didn't succeed as much at Oregon State. It's true that the Beavers aren't going to have the resources of a school like the University of Oregon and it's Phil Knight/Nike support.  But they aren't bankrupt.  Oregon State has resources they could have deployed, if warranted.  They marshalled those resources and are paying Gary Anderson nearly a million dollars more than they were paying Riley.

Oregon State's didn't see the value in investing that money in Mike Riley. And that's a big reason why I don't think Nebraska should have invested it's resources in Mike Riley either.  Nebraska has plenty of resources to offer in football, and if Nebraska was going to make a move to contend for championships, resources could have and should have been used to hire the best available coach.

That didn't happen.  And by judging from the speed in which Riley was hired, it was never even considered.

I hope Mike Riley works out. It's a heck of a lot more fun to win than lose.  Mike Riley isn't a bad coach, but he hasn't won enough, especially at the level Nebraska fans are striving for.

Oregon State's best days in football came AFTER Mike Riley left Corvallis the first time. I suspect that Oregon State will be better again, now that he's left a second time.  That conclusion doesn't bode well for my favorite team either, I'm afraid.

And I sure hope I'm dead wrong on that...

No comments: