Ironically, I wrote an article just a couple of days ago about the firing of a coach who had a winning percentage of .713 yet was fired for not winning the big games. That coach was Bo Pelini of Nebraska of course.
Knowing that Pelini commonly won nine games a season during his seven season in Lincoln, it only makes common sense that the University of Nebraska was looking to improve upon that. What that would mean is that the Cornhuskers would presumably be looking for a coach with a track record of winning above just about all else.
It would also help if the new coach were not a hot-head whose comments and on-field behavior wasn’t completely out of control but in Nebraska, winning matters first right?
Apparently the phrase “not so fast my friend” is quite applicable here. Nebraska announced yesterday that Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley would be taking over the Huskers program for the 2015 season. Riley comes to Lincoln with an overall record of 93-79 which is a winning percentage of .541.
Let’s see here; .713 vs .541…. OK, there’s more to winning then right?
From 2006-2008, Riley’s Beavers finished with records of 10-4, 9-4 and 9-4. That’s very respectable for a Pac-12 team not named USC or Oregon. Riley’s last four seasons however have looked like this; 2014 5-7, 2013 7-6, 2012 9-4, 2011 3-9. If you’re keeping score at home, Mike Riley is under .500 over his last four seasons.
As you might imagine, this hire has not been well-received by the Big Red faithful. The most common theme among those commenting on message boards and in articles is “Why fire a guy who wins nine games a season and replace him with one who wins about six games a season?”
It’s an incredibly difficult question to answer because it’s legitimate. However, if you go back to that “other” reason for the change, this is where Riley excels. At 61, Riley is not a screamer and doesn’t blow his top at the drop of a yellow flag or fumbled football. He will bring a stable presence to the football team and no one questions that he’s a solid coach.
The problem is going to lie in recruiting and in winning over the faithful. Bring top athletes was never as easy as Tom Osborne once made it seem and it has only gotten more difficult with the decline of the program in the last 15 years.
Can Riley win at Nebraska? Yes, he certainly can but can he win championships? I’m much less confident about that and so is most of the state of Nebraska today.
The Playoff Committee’ Big Gaffe
The College Football Playoff Committee has done a very good job to this point in selecting teams each week for it’s top four. There’s been a few curious predictions, chief among them placing TCU ahead of Baylor. Overall though, they’ve done a good job.
Unfortunately they’ve now backed themselves into a corner by ignoring the one, most important thing we all wanted from this playoff during the horrible years of the BCS. Head-to-head play should be the first and most important tie-breaker among two teams who have the same record.
This could all be a moot point if either Baylor or TCU lose this weekend but if both finish 11-1, the Bears need to be elevated higher than TCU simply because they won the head-to-head match-up. If things break perfectly for the committee, they’ll get losses by Ohio State and Florida State then they can just add Baylor and be done with it.
For their sake I hope it works. We wanted things settled on the field, not in a conference room and that’s been accomplished. Now they need to just recognize it.