Riley is the right guy this time, too
Oregon State made the right choice Thursday. Just as Mike Riley was the correct selection in 1997, when he was named OSU football coach the first time, he's the right guy again.
Really, Riley's only crime during his first stint was that he left to take a job in the NFL. It was a bad NFL job, and it didn't work out well. But come on, folks, he left Corvallis for the San Diego Chargers and a huge pay raise. If that's the biggest mistake you make in life, you're doing pretty well.
I don't think you can find much fault with the job he did in Corvallis. It's so easy now to think that when he got the job it was a real plum of a position. But the Beavers hadn't had a winning season in about three decades and were closer to the Big Sky Conference than the Pac-10.
Riley recruited his tail off and landed, depending on how you count them, maybe 17 players who eventually would start in that Fiesta Bowl humiliation of Notre Dame. Yeah, that's a pretty good job of recruiting Ñ especially when you consider that Riley was luring players to the smoldering mess left from the option-offense Jerry Pettibone era.
Is everyone's memory so short that they don't remember how bad things were? They weren't thinking of expanding the stadium in '97. They had no vision of an indoor practice facility. They were trying to figure a way out of a monstrous debt package and cutting corners everywhere.
If Mike Riley could recruit that well in those days, I think he'll recruit very well now. And I think his coaching staff will be first-class. Riley, as you've undoubtedly heard, is a very nice person. People will quit good jobs elsewhere to come work for him.
He will win, and he'll have a good time doing it. Will he leave someday? Maybe. They all do at some point. That's not a major concern.
To think that someone would not hire him a second time just because he left for a better, higher-paying job is just plain stupid.
I once worked at a place where they told you that if you left for another job, you'd never be hired back. They told me that when I left. Of course, anyone who says something of that nature values a mean-spirited grudge a lot more than good business and usually will pay a heavy price for such bitterness.
The Beavers are fortunate that someone as gifted as Riley wanted to come back. They'd have been foolish to spurn him simply because he took a brief shot at the big leagues. Aren't we all supposed to reach for the stars?
I'll say it again: Mike Riley was the right choice the first time around. He'll be an even better choice this time.