One can argue BDC may have made the right decision to let Riley have one final chance to succeed and not pull the plug last year. Not because Riley didn’t deserve to be fired but simply because there were 4 other Pac-12 schools looking for new head coaches in a tight market. On the other side of the coin, BDC had every justification necessary and should have atleast put out a feeler to Mike Leach as I recommended last year and as Bill Moos so wisely did before the competition got ultra stiff. He would have spoken to BDC but Bob never made so much as a phone call last year even though we had a second straight losing season and the bottom fell out from a bad 5 win season to a horrible 3 win season.
BDC can’t afford the same mistake this year. The only way his decision benefits OSU is if he is ready to spring into action and secure our next winning head coach that can take the torch from Riley. Riley sticking around for 4 or 5 more years will be bad for the program and we will get nowhere so that is not an option. Riley needs to accept he is in his final year most likely and that it is time for the handoff for the good of OSU. Short of 7 wins this year there is no other choice. Even then he should probably end on a modest note and allow the next stage for OSU to progress further and in a healthy manner. He can go out with a New Mexico Bowl win if he can get there.
BDC needs to have his feelers out by midseason just to guage interest and be ready to strike the second the season ends. One solid option is Gary Andersen of Utah State. He uses spread elements with fast skill players and QBs that can also run. He was defensive coordinator of the 2008 Sugar Bowl Utah team that finished #2 in the nation. He probably is superior to Whittingham. While his sexy factor is just a little above average he has the style that would get OSU some key wins many years and have us back to where we are in a bowl the vast majority of our seasons. I figure he would average 7.3-7.45 wins a year at OSU. He relishes big games and would never come close to being defeated by Stanford 38-0 as has become old hat for Riley.
Another possibility is Justin Wilcox, the new defensive coordinator at Washington. He would be a sexy upcoming hire who could maximize the new branding coming next year for Oregon State. He would sell tickets and have a Spring Game with 8,000 fans in his first year. He just would. He is not the excuses type. I see him as producing 7-7.2 wins a year on average for Oregon State. He might win a tad less than Andersen but the cool image factor would be bounds ahead of where it is with Riley. I could see us getting more high profile recruits and becoming a much more destination program.
I personally see this year as most likely 5 or 6 wins. In both cases Riley needs to step aside. What I fear is the 7 win season that could save Riley’s job when it really is time to move on. Then what, play this dance for a couple more years? I also fear a 6 win situation where BDC gets gunshy. 6 wins won’t make a bowl in future years as Larry Scott will change that rule this offseason or the next. Even if we do make a New Mexico or Hunger Bowl it isn’t enough. We need to take our next evolutionary step. Have some names in your head, make some phone calls around halfway through the season and start acting like a Pac-12 university with higher standards and expectations. We aren’t even acting better than about half the MWC programs out there right now.