If Riley wasn't in Lincoln already, he probably would be at the top of the wish list of another high-profile program now looking for a new head coach
Sitting at 2-4 with two conference losses is quite possibly the worst case scenario for the beginning of the Mike Riley era. Plenty of fans (not even those of the Nebraska persuasion) have made it clear they think the Cornhuskers botched his hire, but athletic director Shawn Eichorst’s “mistake” may be another longtime power’s fortune.
Look at how two traditional Big Ten powerhouses responded to recent changes. Ohio State brought in Urban Meyer after shoving aside Luke Fickell in the wake of the Jim Tressel scandal. He wins the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Michigan tanks following the Brady Hoke hire, so the Wolverines bring in the Michiganiest of Michigan Men, Jim Harbaugh. Now it looks like the Wolverines actually remember how to play football.
If Bo Pelini were in his eighth year as Nebraska’s head football coach, the firing of Steve Sarkisian means that another college football blue blood would be likely courting someone it had tried to get twice before in the past 15 years.
If Mike Riley had stayed at Oregon State… he’d be the leading candidate at USC right now. No question. Think on that.— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) October 13, 2015
An assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the USC Trojans from 1993-96, Riley had been floundering at Oregon State in Corvallis due to lack of support and fan apathy. Think about what he could gain from movin’ on up.
Not only does he likely retain USC’s entire recruiting class and prevent transfers, all other 11 Pac-12 teams are on alert. Recruiting just got horrendously harder.
Several recruits from Calabasas High School including Class of 2017 quarterback Tristan Gebbia, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Class of 2018 wide receiver Brian Hightower have no reason to leave California.
All of the above are currently giving Nebraska a firm look thanks to Riley and his relationship with Keyshawn Johnson, Jr’s father. They’re also very highly-ranked and extremely talented.
Think of some other names that can (and probably will) pop up even in conversation such as Utah's Kyle Whittingham, TCU's Gary Patterson or Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin.
USC has the money, the tradition and the environment. Everything Riley would need to ride off into the actual sunset as his coaching career came to a close.
Instead, he just finished purchasing a rather large house in Lincoln after a long stay at a downtown Embassy Suites hotel because his future home needed to be cleared of chemicals that his wife, Dee, is allergic to.
Lincoln gives him a nice mix of what he left in Oregon and a football-centric state (that he’s obviously getting very familiar with right now). That’s okay, though. He’s admitted that this type of start to a football season is nothing short of amazingly unique to him.
All that said, if Riley’s good enough for one powerhouse to attempt his hire on two separate occasions (and potentially a third), shouldn’t another see why the Trojans wanted him so badly in the first place?
Food for thought.