Win or go home time for Riley
College football is an ever changing landscape; teams go in and out of the top 25 like hip new fads, or yesterday’s trash.
The same can be said about the head coaching position.
Win 10 or more games and you are king of the university, showered with contract extensions, free meals, and hell, they may even name a building after you.
Lose 10 games and you’ll get kicked to the curb by the university that was so smitten by you, once upon a time.
In an environment where teams live, and die, after gutting it out for 60 minutes every Saturday, the coach is one of the more scrutinized individuals on the team.
No matter the performance of the players on the field, the coach is either praised, or lambasted, at the hands of the media, the fans, and the teams themselves.
Talk about a hostile work environment.
Fire Them All!
This past offseason the PAC-12 saw more than its fair share of coaching changes as Arizona (Mike Stoops), UCLA (Rick Neuheisal), Arizona State (Dennis Erickson) and Washington State (Paul Wulff) all had their coaches relieved of duties following a poor 2011 campaign.
So how hot was Mike Riley’s seat this past year after OSU endured a horrific 3-9 season?
Not quite as hot as you may think, but it could be getting there.
Riley’s Beavers put together a 3-6 PAC-12 record, pushing OSU to two consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the late ’90s.
Obviously Riley, and the rest of his staff, would like to turn this around if they’d like to call Reser Stadium home for a couple more seasons.
2012 is Huge for Mike Riley
While I’m very clearly stating the obvious, it’s worth getting in to; the 2012 season will make, or break, Mike Riley’s career as head coach of the Oregon State Beavers.
OSU has consistently shown support for the home grown coach, even going so far as to sign Riley to a contract extension (tying Riley up through the 2019 season), when talk arose that Riley was in the running for the vacant USC head coaching position, back in 2010.
Despite the backing, you have to imagine the leash for Riley will be getting shorter and shorter should the team come up lame yet again this year.
It isn’t PAC-12 championship or bust, but you’d like to see the team as close to .500 as they can be.
This may be asking a lot from the current team, but there has to be some improvement over last year, to see Riley keep his job for yet another season.
With the growth of the rival Ducks over the past 4 years, there is a sense of urgency in not wanting to get lost in their shadow.
Success or Failure?
As noted in a previous column, I have high hopes for the Beaver’s in that I predicted they could finish at 6-6 on the year; although that would be just a three win increase, that’s still a massive improvement from a year ago.
Any accomplishment, small or big, is what this program needs.
A few more wins this year, then a couple more the next, and you start to see a few more recruits willing to spend there collegiate career in Corvallis, as opposed to Los Angeles, or Eugene.
Worse case scenario, we see the Beavers struggle to find wins yet again, and Mike Riley’s seat get’s so hot the obvious is made reality: the 2013 Beaver’s will be lead by a new coaching staff.
Does Beaver Nation want to see this happen? I think it’s safe to assume the majority answer would be no.
However, there does come a point when wins are more critical than loyalty.
That’s not an opinion, but rather the ugly truth behind the business that is college football.
In the mean time, Oregon State’s primary focus will be on Nicholls State, their opponent in the season opener on September 1st.
As Beaver Nation saw a year ago, no opponent should be taken lightly; a lesson Mike Riley surely won’t soon forget, especially with his job on the line.