Numerous media outlets announced today that Kelly would be leaving the Oregon Duck Football program to take the head coaching position of the Philadelphia Eagles. Mike Riley can once again dream of beating the Ducks. In fact, if he doesn’t beat the Ducks very soon and is unable to beat a rookie coach then just how good of a coach could Riley possibly be? That would be the worthy debate. Riley had lost the last 4 to Oregon and has never beaten Chip. Now though, with the major news that Kelly is gone, Riley has a golden opportunity to put Oregon State on the frontburners of football within the state. Will he and BDC seize on this opportunity, the rebranding and put OSU in the national imagination with another strong year and Civil War Victory or will a little above mediocrity remain the norm?
Kelly led Oregon to a BCS Bowl each and every of the 4 years he was at Oregon. Riley still hasn’t won more than a Sun Bowl in 12 years at Oregon State. Every big game that would mean more, and we have had atleast 7 or 8 examples, and Riley has essentially lost all of them. His best win really remains the 1st Sun Bowl where OSU came back to beat Missouri. 4 or 5 chances to make a Rose Bowl, a couple of games versus Oregon and this years games vs Washington and Stanford have all been losses. Beating Oregon this year would have likley been enough for the Fiesta Bowl so that can be added as another game that likely was for a BCS Berth. How low does the batting average in meaningful games with implications have to go for Riley to come out on top? Aren’t good coaches that are thought of that way the ones who win these games? Yet Riley doesn’t just lose most of them, he basically so far loses all of them.
Riley needs to work on his confidence and playing with more attitude. Like Kelly he needs to expect more from his players and play with more belief in the execution of the gameplan. We shouldn’t ever have to hear more than once a year “I wish I had run more” and watch as the run game is mostly abandoned in 4th quarters. This is very basic stuff and having the discipline to stick with atleast 40% and hopefully 50% or higher of run vs pass in the 4th quarter is something every high school coach handles. Riley needs to quit with the excuses or letting Langsdorf get away with calling such offense, when it is completely against everything he preaches and has cost us so many games. Beaver Nation can handle a couple of tight tough losses but not when we continue to get pass happy and make the same mistakes repeatedly in crunch time.
With the Wicked Duck now dead Riley better bring his A game next year, and maximize the talent on the team by letting Woods and Ward continue to make the game easier for the QB with a balanced attack in all 4 quarters. Do that and OSU should win atleast 8 games next year, and be back in another good bowl. It also will give us the best chance to beat the Ducks in Eugene, and that game potentially could be yet another with BCS Bowl game implications if Riley is finally, in his 13th season ready to win a big game that propels the program forward. Follow the yellow brick road, Riley, which means sticking with your words of staying balanced and especially when it matters most in the 4th quarter.