Stunner: ‘Huskers hire Mike Riley away from Beavers

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In replacing Bo Pelini, Nebraska was hoping to make a “wow” hire.  I don’t know if this qualifies, but I sure said “wow” when the release came out.  And “WTH?!?” for good measure too.

In what can only be described as a stunning turn of events, Nebraska announced Thursday that it has hired Mike Riley as its new head football coach.  Riley had spent the past 12 seasons as the head coach at Oregon State, his second stint with the Beavers (1997-97).

The 61-year-old Riley — he’ll be 62 before the start of the 2015 season — will be formally introduced at a 10 a.m. ET press conference Friday.

“There was one coach who fit all the characteristics that I was seeking to lead our tradition rich football program,” NU athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “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. 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.”

In 14 total seasons at OSU, Mike Riley went 93-80 overall (.538) and 58-63 (.479) in Pac-12 play, and won nine or more games four times. For comparisons sake, the man Riley will replace went 67-27 (.713) overall and 39-17 .696 in the conference, winning nine-plus all seven years.

Riley, who had previously turned down overtures from USC (twice) and his alma mater Alabama, never won a conference or division championship with the Beavers, while Pelini won or shared four divisional titles in his seven seasons with the Cornhuskers.

One more: OSU qualified for eight bowl games during Riley’s 14 seasons, including just two the last five seasons. NU went to/qualified for a bowl game every season under Pelini.

“It is truly an honor to join the University of Nebraska family,” Riley said. “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. My sincere thanks to Chancellor Perlman and Shawn Eichorst for their confidence in me and I look forward to becoming a part of the Nebraska family and building upon the great history and tradition.”

Entering the 2014 season, there had been talk that Riley could very well end up on the hot seat in Corvallis.  After a 5-7 season, there was additionally chatter that there could be a parting of ways between the coach and the program, with particular media attention paid to the structure of his contract.

As it turns out, that was very much the case, although not in the manner that anyone saw coming.

Riley turned hot-seat talk into a job at Nebraska?  That’s about as stunning as it gets; just ask the former coach’s alter Twitter ego.

FAU TE John Raine awarded another year of eligibility

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We overlooked this one earlier in the week, but it’s a rather sizable piece of official news for Lane Kiffin‘s Florida Atlantic football program.

By way of the Palm Beach Post Tuesday, it has been confirmed that John Raine was recently awarded a fifth season of eligibility.  The ruling will allow the senior tight end to play for the Owls in 2020.

A broken ankle cost Raine all but four games of his true freshman season in 2016, paving the way for the NCAA to rule in his favor on his appeal for another year of eligibility.

“I’m super excited about it,” Raine told the Post about the NCAA’s approval of a medical hardship waiver. “I love being here; I love playing football.”

With two regular-season games plus a bowl remaining, Rainer has already set career-highs in receptions (26), receiving yards (426) and receiving touchdowns (five).  The touchdowns are tops on the Owls.

This weekend, a Notre Dame home game won’t be sold out for first time since 1973

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All good things, streaks in this particular case, must come to an end.

Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Notre Dame will play host to Navy in the 93rd renewal of their football rivalry.  And, according to the South Bend Tribune, the game won’t be played in front of a sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium (capacity: 77,622), which is actually a startling development.

This weekend, you see, will mark the first time since Thanksgiving Day 1973 (vs. Air Force) that the Fighting Irish haven’t sold out a home football game, snapping a streak of 273 straight sellouts.  Ahead of that streak being snapped, the Irish’s athletic director for the past dozen years, Jack Swarbrick, attempted to downplay the development.

From the Tribune:

It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It’s a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans.

“For me it’s always been: What’s the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it’s also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that.

“But if my choice is (77,622) people in an environment that’s not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I’ll take the latter every time.

Notre Dame’s 237-game streak had been the second-longest active streak in college football behind Nebraska’s 373, which will move to 374 when Big Red hosts Wisconsin this weekend. The last time the Cornhuskers failed to sellout Memorial Stadium was during the 1962 season.

Four finalists named for 2019 Paul Hornung Award

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The field for the award that fetes the nation’s most versatile college football player has been whittled down significantly.

Earlier Thursday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced the four finalists for the 2019 Paul Hornung Award that have been chosen by the 17-member selection committee.  And (surprise!), all four of the finalists come from Power Five conferences: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska).

All four of the finalists come from the offensive side of the ball and have spent time as return specialists as well.  Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last three games at quarterback for UK, with the Wildcats going 2-1 in that span.

Reed is primarily a wide receiver and Edwards-Helaire a running back, while Robinson has split his time between both positions.

The 2018 winner of the Hornung Award was Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who likely would’ve been given serious finalist consideration again this year if not for his season essentially being derailed by a lingering hamstring injury.

For all of the statistical particulars for each candidate, click HERE the award’s press release:

 

Texas’ Jalen Green apologizes for vicious hit that angered K-State

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It appears Kansas State will have to settle for a mea culpa.

In the second half of last Saturday’s game, Texas cornerback Jalen Green (pictured) leveled K-State wide receiver Wykeen Gill (not pictured) on a play away from the ball and was ejected from the contest after (eventually) being flagged for targeting.  The play will cost Green the first half of UT’s game this Saturday against Iowa State per NCAA targeting rules, but will likely cost Gill at least one full game as he will be sidelined for the Week 12 matchup with West Virginia as the receiver is currently in concussion protocol.

That disparity didn’t sit well with K-State’s head coach.

“It’s unfortunate because it was away from the play, didn’t have anything to do with the play, and Wykeen is probably going to miss a game,” Chris Klieman stated at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “When you have a hit like that and somebody only misses a half, I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Wednesday afternoon, Green issued an apology in which he stated, in part, that he “realize[s] how it may have looked” but “I do want everyone to know I was not trying to take a cheap shot.”

As for “not trying to take a cheap shot,” you be the judge.