Stunner: ‘Huskers hire Mike Riley away from Beavers

77 Comments

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.

Colorado State QB Collin Hill suffers THIRD torn ACL

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you don’t feel for Collin Hill, you are severely lacking in the soul department.

In October of 2016, the Colorado State quarterback suffered a torn ACL playing football for the Rams; in March of 2018, Hill suffered a torn ACL while playing a game of pickup basketball.  Tuesday night, CSU announced that Hill has been diagnosed with a third torn ACL that will, obviously, sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Hill suffered this latest serious knee injury in the second quarter of the Week 3 loss to Arkansas.

The redshirt junior will have another season of eligibility he can use in 2020.  It’s also possible Collins, who missed all of 2017 as he recovered from the first ACL tear, could receive a sixth year of eligibility that he could use the following season as well.

Prior to this season, Collins had started eight games for the Rams.  This season, he started all three games, setting a career-high with 374 yards passing in the opener and following that up with 367 yards in just over two quarters of play against FCS Western Illinois.

With Collins out, it’s likely Colorado State will turn to Patrick O’Brien, a transfer from Nebraska, as its starter, at least initially.

Alabama’s LaBryan Ray undergoes surgery, could return for LSU game

Getty Images
1 Comment

On the LaBryan Ray front, there was a negative development that surfaced Wednesday as well as a potentially promising one as well.

Nick Saban confirmed earlier this week that LaBryan suffered an unspecified foot/ankle injury in Alabama’s Week 3 win over South Carolina and would be sidelined indefinitely.  A couple of days later, al.com is reporting that the junior defensive end has undergone surgery to repair the unspecified damage and will be sidelined “for a significant period of time.”

However, the same website, citing sources, writes that “there is a chance the junior could return later in the season and maybe even in time for the Crimson Tide’s game against LSU in early November.”

Such a timeline would mean LaBryan would miss, at the very least, the next five games.  That stretch includes conference home dates against Ole Miss (Sept. 28), Tennessee (Oct. 19) and Arkansas (Oct. 26) as well as a road trip to College Station Oct. 12 to face No. 17 Texas A&M.  Following a bye weekend after the Arkansas game, Alabama plays host to No. 4 LSU Nov. 9.

Obviously, he’ll miss this weekend’ game against Southern Miss as well.

Ray, a five-star 2017 signee, saw his true freshman season truncated by a foot injury.  After being named third-team preseason All-SEC over the summer, Ray had nine tackles and a sack prior to his injury.

Bob Davie expects to return to sidelines for New Mexico-Liberty game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

He’s not there quite yet, but Bob Davie is nearing a return to the sidelines.

Tuesday, New Mexico confirmed that offensive line coach/running-game coordinator Saga Tuitele will once again serve as acting head coach and be in charge of game management for this weekend’s matchup with in-state rival New Mexico State. Separately, head coach Bob Davie revealed that, barring an unexpected setback, he should resume coaching duties for the Sept. 28 game against Liberty, whose head football coach went through his own health issues over the past month as well.

Shortly after New Mexico beat Sam Houston State in its season opener, it was reported that Davie had experienced some type of “heart trouble” and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.  Shortly thereafter, UNM athletic director Eddie Nunez released a statement in which he confirmed that Davie “was taken to the hospital as a result of what appeared to be a serious medical incident” and asked “that you keep the Davie family in your prayers.”

Subsequent updates from the school indicated that Davie was doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, although not well enough to make the trip back to South Bend for the Week 3 game against Notre Dame.

Earlier this month, Davie stated that he was “not being too dramatic by saying [medical personnel] saved my life and my family will forever be appreciative.”

The 64-year-old Davie is in his eighth season as the head coach at New Mexico. He was also the head coach at Notre Dame from 1997-2001 before taking what turned out to be a decade-long sabbatical from the coaching profession. The Fighting Irish went 35-25 during Davie’s tenure, including losses in all three bowl appearances.

Davie served as the Irish’s defensive coordinator from 1994-96 before taking over for the retiring Lou Holtz.

At UNM, Davie has gone 34-55 in seven-plus seasons.

Nick Saban: ‘If there was one thing professionally that I would do over again, it would’ve been not to leave LSU’

Getty Images
7 Comments

It was announced Tuesday that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been selected as one of eight 2020 inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Saban, of course, coached at LSU for five seasons, the minimum number of years to make either a coach or player eligible for the state’s Hall of Fame.

Suffice to say, Saban’s departure from LSU to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins following the 2004 season wasn’t exactly well-received and left many in the Pelican State none too pleased with the coach — his first return to Baton Rouge, Saban’s image was burned in effigy in November of 2008.

Despite such venting, Glenn Guilbeau of the USA Today Network writes, Saban has claimed that his biggest professional regret is leaving LSU for the NFL.

“As it turns out, what I learned from that experience in hindsight was, it was a huge mistake to leave college football,” Saban told Guilbeau during an interview earlier this year. “And I know a lot of LSU fans think I left for whatever reasons, but I left because I wanted to be a pro coach, or thought I wanted to be a pro coach. We loved LSU. We worked hard to build the program. If there was one thing professionally that I would do over again, it would’ve been not to leave LSU.”

During his two seasons in the NFL, the Dolphins went 15-17 under Saban. There has been a school of thought over the years, although it’s subsided of late, that Saban, who’ll turn 68 in late October, would want to return to the NFL to clean up some unfinished business and attempt to erase what’s the only blight on a Hall of Fame coaching career.

Based on the comments already posted above and these below, I think it’s (still) safe to say that professional football door is unofficially closed.

Saban said then-athletic director Skip Bertman, who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, tried to convince him to stay, and he has never forgotten what he said.

“I remember Richard Gill and Skip and I meeting in Skip’s office,” Saban said. “And I was really torn about it. And Skip said, ‘You’ve just got to decide what you want your legacy to be. You want it to be as a college coach? Or do you want to try to make a name for yourself as a NFL coach?’ And I really wanted to be a college coach, but I had it in the back of my mind all the time that the ultimate thing that you could accomplish in the profession was to be a head coach in the NFL. Don’t ask me why. But that was just kind of there. And I thought, probably because of Wayne Huizenga (the late Dolphins’ owner) that was the right one. He was a pretty good recruiter.

Saban will officially be inducted into the state’s Hall of Fame June 27 of next year, for those looking to mark their calendars.