What’s the Reaction Inside the Nebraska Football Program on the Hiring of Mike Riley?
It took less than a week for Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst to find a replacement for Bo Pelini, as Oregon State's Mike Riley was introduced as the new Cornhuskers football coach, Friday morning.
The selection of Riley came as a surprise to almost everyone following the story, as his name was never among the rumored candidates for the job.
But according to reports, when Arkansas coach Bret Bielema turned down the job, Eichorst turned to Riley (after allegedly discussing the job with Utah's Kyle Whittingham).
So what is Nebraska getting in Riley?
They're getting a coach with a long head coaching resume (14 years in Division I, 2 years in the NFL), and an up-tempo pro-style offense.
They're also getting a guy who is notoriously nice, something that Pelini never seemed to master in Lincoln. Nine and ten win seasons without championships and big bowl game appearances eventually grow old with boosters who are accustomed to more, but when the coach is combative, on and off the field, that just accelerates the frustration level of the fans. Riley may not win more games than Pelini, but he'll be harder to hate doing it.
Riley may need all of that personality in Lincoln, because his numbers in recent years aren't the results Nebraska fans are looking for with their team.
At Oregon State, Riley never won a conference title, won nine games only once in the last six seasons, and finished third or worse in the Pac 12 each of the last five.
2014 was especially bad in Corvallis, where the Beavers started the year with three straight wins, before dropping seven of their next nine, to finish the season 5-7, 2-7 in the Pac 12.
Monday, when I talked with the 'Voice of the Cornhuskers', Greg Sharpe, in the aftermath of Sunday's Pelini dismissal, he told me he thought Nebraska would have a new coach by the end of the week. Friday, after he attended the Riley press conference, I asked Greg if he thought that coach would, in fact, be Riley:
Riley takes over immediately in Lincoln, but will not coach the Huskers in their bowl game. That responsibility will fall to tight ends coach Barney Cotton.
Nebraska will get their bowl assignment Sunday night.
You can follow the Cornhuskers all season long on ESPN 99.1.