De Carolis: 'Concern? Yes. Am I ready to panic? No'
Mike Riley's job is not in jeopardy despite back-to-back losing seasons, Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis said Wednesday.
'These guys didn't get stupid overnight,' De Carolis said of OSU's football head coach and his staff. 'They didn't forget how to coach. They've had some great years back-to-back-to-back.'
In 2010, when the Beavers went 5-7, 'we make one play (in a double-overtime loss at Washington) and we're in the Holiday Bowl,' De Carolis said. 'But we didn't, and this year (a 3-9 record) was disappointing.
'Concern? Yes. Am I ready to panic? No. Mike is a well-respected coach. We just have to get better.'
De Carolis called the NCAA's limit of 85 scholarships for FBS programs 'the great equalizer,' and asked for perspective.
The scholarship limit 'gives everybody a chance to compete on a national level,' the OSU AD said. 'But there's a downside, and that is depth.
'You are a couple of significant injuries, a couple of bad calls, a couple of bad bounces, a couple of bad recruiting classes from being mediocre, or less than mediocre. That was probably the case this year.'
De Carolis said he will not push Riley to make changes in his assistants.
'My philosophy is not to tell coaches what to do with their staff,' he said. 'I've never done that. That's not my prerogative. I'm not in the trenches day to day. If I'm going to tell the coach who to hire, I might as well be the coach myself.
'What I do talk to coaches about is the process of evaluation. Mike and I have had several conversations and will continue to. It's good to have an outside perspective about how you evaluate your business.'
De Carolis is encouraged by Riley's recent recruiting classes.
'We have some really good young talent across the board,' the OSU AD said. 'When you look at some of that, the question will be how much did they develop playing this year, how much will they develop during spring ball, and what kind of impact will they have next fall?
'We have some underpinnings that we could back to where we were before.'
Riley is the dean of Pac-12 head coaches with 11 years of service at Oregon State. De Carolis said there is something to be said for continuity in a program.
'Any time you have change, there's going to be a disruption in a lot of areas, particulary in recruiting,' De Carolis said. 'There's a stability of what you're trying to do. Your trademark - what you stand for, your brand - has some value. As a high school coach recommending a coach (to a prospect), you know what you're getting with Mike Riley and the staff.'
De Carolis said he is aware of criticism of Riley and his staff by some OSU fans.
'I've gotten a couple of emails,' he said. 'There's frustration out there. (The record the last two years) is not where you want to be. We're going to try to get it fixed.
'We all want to have a successful football program. We'll work on that, to get it in that direction.'
What would De Carolis like to see with next year's team?
'Progress would be a great place to start,' he said. 'I think that will happen. We're right now focused on taking a breath and figuring out what, if anything, we need to do differently. .. and on finishing the recruiting class. It sounds like it's going well, but two or three years down the line is where the proof is in the pudding.
'The process of evaluation is the most important thing, If we get that right, that will hopefully lead into progress on the field. I don't want to put a number (of victories) down on it.'
How long will Riley and his staff have to turn things around?
'That's a good question,' De Carolis said. 'I'd like to say they have as much time as they need to fix this thing. But in this business, things change, and change rapidly.
'Let's not worry about time. Let's focus on what we need to do to get better, and we'll evaluate again next year.'
De Carolis said there have been no major financial ramifications yet from the two losing seasons. He said Oregon State made budget in 2011, with attendance figures the second-highest ever for a non-Civil War year.
The Beavers have seven home games next season, including dates with the Big Ten (Wisconsin) and Pac-12 (Oregon) champions.
'We would anticipate a spike' in attendance, he said. 'It's a great schedule, with five bowl teams coming in. But we'll see.'
Other news from the De Carolis teleconference:
• Funds from the new Pac-12 television contract will be available for the first time in the fall of 2012, with a net of $9 million expected the first year, including a buyout of OSU's existing TV deal.
The 'wild card,' De Carolis said, 'is the Pac-12 Network, and we won't know until the fall of 2013.'
If additional cable systems, Direct TV or satellite networks sign on, 'we're talking between $5 million and $10 million' more annually, he said.
• Oregon State's donor base has increased from 6,300 to the 7,500 range in the last year, but 'we're not as close as we want it to be' to 12,000 by 2012, De Carolis said.
'Either we haven't done a good job articulating (goals), or it's falling on deaf ears,' he said. 'It's nice that we've increased, but we're nowhere near our goal.'
• De Carolis said OSU staff members are working on improving the football game-day experience at Reser Stadium, but provided no specifics.
'There's a general disgruntlement in a lot of areas coming out more vocally now than it's ever been,' De Carolis said. 'We're looking at another way to do things. We are addressing it.'