Just a short time after the Florida Gators named Jim McElwain as their next head coach, the Nebraska Cornhuskers filled the void left by firing Bo Pelini with Oregon State headman Mike Riley. The Cornhuskers were quick to pull the trigger on a coach they wanted and quickly found Riley to be the appropriate fit. After a three-year stint with the San Diego Chargers, Riley had been with the Beavers since 2003 and has accumulated a career record of 93 wins and 80 losses.
“It is truly an honor to join the University of Nebraska family,” Riley said in a statement released by Nebraska. “Though we love Corvallis and Oregon State, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach at one of the nation’s most storied football programs and I can’t wait to get started.”
The hire will be officially announced at a Friday morning press conference at Memorial Stadium, but will not coach the team as they prepare for their Bowl game. Several big names had been mentioned during the job search- none of which included Riley’s name- as the Beavers finished a very disappointing 5-7, and Riley was an unlikely candidate for the position.
According to an interview with ESPN.com, athletic director Elchorst quickly saw something in the veteran coach that enticed him to bring Riley aboard.
“There was one coach who fit all the characteristics that I was seeking to lead our tradition-rich football program,” Eichorst said. “Mike Riley has a proven record of success, a sound approach to football and teaching, an understanding of the educational mission of our university and the integrity and values that we cherish at Nebraska.”
Riley will inherit a load of talent recruited by Pelini and will face the same high expectations that eventually doomed his predecessor. Several questions have arisen regarding the hiring, but the mystery remains will Riley be capable of tailoring his playing style to the brutal Big Ten.
“I have no doubt that Mike will assemble a tremendous staff and lead our student-athletes to win Big Ten titles and compete for national championships in the years ahead,” Eichorst continued.
*Section Photo credit to Christian Petersen, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Christopher Hanewinckel, USA Today Sports