oregon state blog

Northwest Coach Profiles: Mike Riley

Oregon St. Football – Mike Riley

Mike Riley’s career has been measured at all levels of the game and he has earned the respect of players, coaches, media and fans. He has been called the savior of Oregon State football and the future continues to look bright for the Orange and Black. as long as Riley stays at the helm.

Mike Riley
Born: July 6th, 1953
Place of birth: Wallace, Idaho
College: Cornerback (Alabama)
Position: DC, OC/QB, HC
Overall Coaching Record: 72-63 (College) 14-34 (NFL)
Bowl Record: 5-1

Playing Career and Early Coaching Years

Riley’s playing career got him more coaching experience than any assistant job he would ever end up taking. He played at Alabama from 1971-1974 under one of the most legandary coaches of all time —Paul Bryant— who helped the Crimson Tide to four SEC titles during his time there; and a UPI National Championship.

From there, he had no thoughts of pro-ball, as Riley went straight into coaching as a graduate assistant for two different schools in two seasons.

He then got his first real job as the defensive coordinator at Linfield College. He would spend six seasons there after which time he took a couple of other assistant jobs.

Riley’s head coaching career began with a job in the CFL with the frozen tundra of Winnipeg being his home for four seasons. He managed to win two Grey Cups during his tenure there before moving on to other ventures.

In 1993, Riley found himself as the offensive coordinator for USC. He spent four seasons there before he got his first major college head coaching gig with Oregon State. He spent two years with the school and had very minimal success before landing a job in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers.

His tenure in the NFL would not last very long, as he spent just three seasons with the Bolts to a tune of 14-34. When that ended he spent one more season as a Saints’ assistant before finally making it back to the place he would call home.

Back to Oregon State

At 58, Riley has now completed nine seasons this go around with the Beavers and has had his share of ups and downs — mainly ups.

OSU Mike Riley

The Patented Beaver Fist Pump

From 2003-2009 he led the Beavers to six bowls in seven seasons. What is even more impressive is his record in those games. He would win the first five of them, before finally dropping his first bowl game as a coach to a very good BYU team in 2009.

Things have slid in the past two seasons to an 8-16 mark, but have no doubt that Riley will be able to right the ship.

The 2006-2008 seasons are considered to be his best years at the helm, due in part to his success on the field, but also because of the recognition off of it.

The Beavers won a pair of Sun Bowls and an Emerald Bowl during that time, while putting up an impressive 28-12 record. They finished in the top 25 of the AP Poll in all three seasons and finished in the top of the Coaches Poll in ‘06 and ‘08.

While Riley has taken the brunt of the Beavers past two disappointing football seasons, he is still the right man for the job.


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  • Starcraftsquall

    Right. Just like he has won all those championships and isn’t satisfied with just getting to a minor bowl game each year. Oh wait… I’m convinced that if Riley had been the coach in 2000 and not Erickaon, the Beavers wouldn’t have played as well as they did. He’s a nice guy, but has no fire, no drive to take the next step.

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