Termination of Nebraska Football Coach Effective, High Stakes for Future
December 14, 2017
On November 25, Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos announced the termination of Mike Riley’s contract. Effectively firing him as the head coach at the University of Nebraska. This was the right move, and the move Nebraska needed to make.
As soon as former Athletic Director Sean Eichorst hired Riley many questioned weather Eichorst made the correct hire. In Riley’s first year, Nebraska lost 5 of their first 8 games by a total of 13 points, 4 of them on their opponents’ final offensive play. The Huskers would then go on to finish 6-7 with a bowl victory over UCLA.
Riley brought in an impressive recruiting class, and the Huskers had tons of momentum heading into the 2016 season in late July. But, that is when the unthinkable happened, senior punter Sam Foltz, was killed in a car crash. Nebraska was able to rally around him and begin the 2016 season 7-0 and bring a #7 ranking into Camp Randall Stadium for a showdown with the #11 Badgers.
The high point and beginning of the end of the Riley era all occurred in that game. Mike Riley’s squad had multiple chances to win the game late, but Wisconsin escaped 23-17 in overtime. Nebraska then lost 62-3 to Ohio State and losses of 40-10 and 38-24 to Iowa and Tennessee respectively to close the year. The Huskers then fired defensive coordinator Mark Banker, and brought in Bob Diaco. After a good signing day, everything pointed to a make it or break year for Riley in year 3.
Year 3 ended up being a complete disaster from opening night, barely surviving Arkansas State. A close loss at Oregon and it looked like Nebraska might finally be going in the right direction. That all ended with the embarrassing 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois. 5 days later Eichorst was fired. Back to back home losses of 38-17 and 56-14 made the season looked bleak. Nebraska then closed the year by becoming the 20th team in the history of college football to give up 50 points in three straight games, and finished 4-8, the schools worst record since 1961. Along the way Riley lost his best recruit.
Nebraska needed to get rid of Mike Riley. As classy as the guy is, it was time for a change. Times are very dangerous for Nebraska and this was clearly not the right guy to get Nebraska back to where it needs to be. All sorts of bad records were broken this year, the defense made Kevin Cosgrove’s ’07 unit look like the ’85 Bears, and most importantly, Riley lost his team.
Riley does deserve credit though for how he handled the situation. He handled everything with class, and his players did for the most part too. After he was fired Riley gave a farewell press conference, instead of yell at the AD in front of his team, unlike his predecessor. Bill Moos did what needed to be done, and hopefully his new head coach can bring Nebraska back to where it needs to be.