Mike Riley departed Oregon State for Nebraska on Thursday, leaving the Beavers looking for a new head coach for the first time since the end of the 2002 season. Oregon State is one of the toughest jobs in the Pac-12, so finding a coach that can win at a high level won’t be easy for athletic director Bob De Carolis.
De Carolis could be looking at current Pac-12 assistants like Justin Wilcox at Washington or Scott Frost at Oregon. Current FBS or FCS coaches are also expected to jump into the mix, including Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter, Utah State’s Matt Wells and Eastern Washington’s Beau Baldwin.
Who might replace Mike Riley at Oregon State? Let’s take a look at 10 possible candidates:
10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Mike Riley at Oregon State
Beau Baldwin, head coach, Eastern Washington
Baldwin is a rising star in the FCS ranks, and Oregon State fans are certainly familiar with his Eastern Washington team after the Eagles knocked off the Beavers in the 2013 season opener. Baldwin spent one year as Central Washington’s head coach in 2007, recording a 10-3 record with a Division II playoff appearance. The California native replaced Paul Wulff at Eastern Washington in 2008 and has a 76-27 mark with the Eagles in seven years. Baldwin has won at least 10 games in each of the last three seasons and claimed the FCS Championship in 2010. He is regarded as a bright offensive mind, and Eastern Washington ranked No. 1 in FCS ranks with an average of 44.6 points per game in 2014.
Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State
DeRuyter is 26-12 in his three years at Fresno State, including an 11-2 mark in 2013 with a Mountain West title. DeRuyter’s background in Texas and California is critical for a program like Oregon State, as the Beavers recruit heavily in those two areas. Prior to taking over at Fresno State, DeRuyter worked at Texas A&M for two seasons as a defensive coordinator and had stops as an assistant at Air Force, Nevada, Ohio and Navy prior to College Station. DeRuyter went 6-6 this season but also had to replace standout quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams.
Scott Frost, offensive coordinator, Oregon
An Oregon assistant as the head coach at Oregon State? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Frost is considered by many to be a rising star and a future head coach at a Power 5 program. The Nebraska native doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience, but he spent one season as a graduate assistant at Nebraska (2002), a year in the same capacity with Kansas State (2006) and two seasons at Northern Iowa from 2007-08. Frost was hired by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly to tutor the wide receivers in 2009, and he served in that capacity until the start of the 2013 season. Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator after Kelly left for the NFL, and the Ducks’ offense continues to be one of the best in the nation under his watch. Oregon averaged 45.5 points per game in 2013 and has a 45.9 mark entering the Pac-12 Championship. Frost is young and still largely unproven. However, at a place like Oregon State, a coach that can implement an lethal offense like the Ducks have used in recent years would help the Beavers compete in the Pac-12 North.
Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State
Herman is another assistant coach primed for a chance to run his own program in the coming seasons. The Ohio native started his coaching career in 1998 at Texas Lutheran University and has worked his way up the assistant ladder over the last 17 seasons. Herman also has stops at Texas (graduate assistant) and Sam Houston State (2001-04) before landing his first opportunity to be a play-caller in 2005 at Texas State. After two years with the Bobcats, Herman called the plays at Rice for two seasons and spent three years at Iowa State from 2009-11. Herman was hired by Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s play-caller at the end of the 2011 season, and the Buckeyes’ offense has thrived under his watch. Herman is also a member of Mensa International.
Brady Hoke, former Michigan coach
Hoke seems like a longshot, but his name has popped up in the initial rumor mill of candidates. Why would Hoke be a possible candidate at Oregon State after striking out at Michigan? Hoke was an assistant with the Beavers from 1989-94 and worked with the Wolverines as an assistant while Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis also spent time in Ann Arbor. While Hoke went 31-20 in four years at Michigan and was fired at the conclusion of 2014, he won at San Diego State (not an easy job) and went 19-7 in his last two seasons at Ball State. The connections are there but it would be surprising to see Hoke in Corvallis next year.
Bronco Mendenhall, head coach, BYU
Mendenhall is a longshot, but he played at Oregon State from 1986-87 and later coached in Corvallis from 1995-96. There are certainly ties for Mendenhall to Oregon State, but BYU is a better job. Prior to taking over as the Cougars’ head coach, Mendenhall worked as the defensive coordinator in Provo for two seasons (03-04), spent five years at New Mexico (1998-02) and made other stops at Louisiana Tech (1997), Northern Arizona (1993-94) and Snow College (1991-92). In 10 years as BYU’s coach, Mendenhall has a 90-38 record with nine consecutive bowl appearances.
Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State
Norvell is technically the deputy head coach to Todd Graham at Arizona State, but he’s the architect of the offenses in Tempe. Norvell has worked under Graham for the last eight years, including stints outside of Arizona State at Tulsa and Pittsburgh. The 33-year-old play-caller does not have any experience as a head coach, but it’s clear he’s a rising star in the coaching ranks and is on a fast track to running a Power 5 program.
Bob Stitt, head coach, Colorado School of Mines
Sure, Stitt is a little off the national radar, but it’s not easy to win at Oregon State. Why not try something different? Stitt has coached at Colorado School of Mines since 2000 and has a 98-60 record in that span. The Nebraska native is known for his innovative offenses and spent time as Harvard’s offensive coordinator from 1999-00. Stitt may lack the experience of some of the other candidates on the major college level, but his scheme would be difficult for opposing Pac-12 defensive coordinators to prepare against.
Matt Wells, head coach, Utah State
Wells has picked up where Gary Andersen left off in Logan. Utah State is 18-9 over the last two seasons and played in the Mountain West title game in 2013. Wells and his staff have overcome a plethora of quarterback injuries over the last two years and had to start a true freshman that opened the season as the No. 4 option in 2014. Prior to taking over as Utah State’s head coach and spending two years under Andersen as an assistant, Wells worked at Navy, Tulsa, New Mexico and Louisville.
Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, USC
Wilcox is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest, as he played at Oregon from 1996-99 and coached as an assistant at Boise State (2001-02 and 06-09) and at Washington from 2012-13. The Oregon native worked as the defensive coordinator at USC in 2014, and the Trojans finished third in the Pac-12 by holding opponents to 23.8 points per game. Wilcox has been a defensive coordinator for the last nine seasons, including a two-year stint at Tennessee from 2010-11.