By Tony George
With numerous coaching posts opening up in College Football, there should be a few others not in the headlines. I can name a few for you. Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Arizona, Notre Dame, Missouri, UCLA, Oregon, and most notably not being talked about is once powerful Nebraska. As an alum and avid Husker fan, Mike Riley is not the answer. I have family member’s who are hardcore Husker fans that swear by this guy, and honestly he is an average coach at best, a bad game manager, and 3 time loser, soon to be 4 time loser. Twice at Oregon State where the Beavers never amounted to much of anything and never once were in the college football narrative unless they were playing Oregon in their annual rivalry, which Oregon beat the hell out of the OSU more times than not, and the San Diego Chargers who ran him out of town on a rail car.
Being a nice guy gets you a pay it forward coffee at Starbucks, not a conference or even a division title. Husker fans demand winning, and yet settle for mediocrity and think it will happen next year with highly touted recruits that are not coached well. The loyalty of the Husker fans is commendable, but blind loyalty gets you nowhere but the middle of the pack or worse when you fail to realize changes need to be made. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Sound familiar Husker Nation? Mike Riley replaced Bo Pellini, and he is the polar opposite of Bo, a cool demeanor that makes you wonder seeing him on the sideline even he even knows they are playing in a game, versus Bo, who would go ballistic over a missed block on a special teams play with a 20 point lead. Nebraska needs to find a happy medium.
Once you watch a game like Nebraska played against Iowa the day after Thanksgiving, I would hope to assume that Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst had the same gut punch feeling any educated Nebraska fan had, we are an also ran in a Conference where getting to the top goes through Columbus Ohio and Ann Arbor Michigan, and when Nebraska visited one of those MECCA’s of college football this year they walked out a 62-3 loser, a total embarrassment to the entire program. Your fate is 3-5 losses a year, all against ranked opponents and the biggest fade team in big games in Las Vegas on the betting line against them, at least the gamblers are happy.
The final nail in the coffin of recruiting happened in the past 4 day Holiday weekend. Nebraska fails to even look like they prepared for a football game, no sense of urgency or pride, and let an unranked Iowa dominate them in every facet of a game, and Riley was badly out coached, his assistant’s out coached, and some of the worst play calling on display out of every game played over the weekend, a 30 point behind the woodshed butt kicking by a middle of the pack team who had failed on offense all year, and the Huskers made them look like Chip Kelly was coaching Oregon again .
Then the drama of Ohio State / Michigan took center stage this weekend, more eyes on that game than the Iron Bowl with Alabama / Auburn. Guess who all the Big 10 recruits want to play for? The team crushing Nebraska on Friday for sure, and Michigan and Ohio State, both teams whose coaches are the cats meow of college football. Nebraska loses again. As an AD at Nebraska, settling for a nice bowl game (NU went to a bowl last year with just 5 wins), and making a decent showing in the top 50 of college football power rankings is not going to continue to sell out memorial Stadium in Lincoln Nebraska. You go big or go home Mr. Eichorst, plain and simple.
Penn State was left for dead after the Sandusky scandal and Joe Pa passing away, and look at them now. They knocked off an opponent that was #2 in the nation and find themselves in a Big 10 Conference Championship. They went out and got themselves a hot coach who can recruit and coach young men to over achieve, and they are back in the college football narrative because of it. The point is it can be done, you can compete against the Alabama’s, Michigan’s, Ohio State and Clemson’s of the world. Washington went out and hired a good coach out of Boise State, paid big money to get him and look at them now. Again, my point is it can be done, and it starts with a head coach who has some moxie. Mike Riley is parading as a big time College Football coach, masquerading as one actually, and it is putting the Husker Football program back 5 years every time he gets in a big game and gets his rear end coached off.
Who can Nebraska get and turn up the heat and compete at a high level and attract the type of players through recruiting than can play the type of football required in the Big 10 to succeed you ask? Scott Frost. It is time Nebraska, your National Title Winning QB from 1997, Tom Osborne’s last team. An offensive coordinator at Oregon, and new head coach of Central Florida who took an 0-12 left for dead team in 2015, and put them in a bowl game this year in less than 12 months. He has the mettle, pedigree and price tag Nebraska needs, not to mention deep Husker ties.
Mike Riley is running a loose version of the West Coast offense with an OL that cannot block, and players not suited to run it. He continues to live in the stone ages and fails to adapt to what can get it done in the Big 10. It is time for a change at Nebraska. I have no doubt Mike Riley is a good guy, a gentleman of the game, and is doing all he can, it simply is not enough if Nebraska wants to be a player on the national landscape of college football. The Husker Nation is getting tired of talking about the 90’s and what used to be. If no change is made that is exactly what Husker Nation is going to talking about for the next decade.
Breaking News: Sunday Coach Riley fired his Special teams Coordinator. I doubt that satisfies any knowledgeable Husker fan. He forgot to fire his OC and DC.
Tony George is a professional handicapper and national sports Broadcaster on SB Nation Radio. You can find his daily takes at www.tonygeorgesports.com