As we wait for the season to draw nearer and OSU recruiting is at its lowest and slowest in years, many Beaver fans are left wondering if the Riley II era is winding down. Is Riley really the answer if the best he can do over 12 years is a Sun Bowl where we last scored 3 points? Angry has a nice new post that the only thing we really get with Riley is a year older every year as all the same things that bother us are ignored. Things like slow season starts and diminishing spring scrimmage attendance. Thousands of fans have given up hope for a real spring game because Riley seems intent on having it be as lackluster as possible.
So what are the most important aspects of a head coach to get the kind of exciting energy in a program that seems essential for success in a more competitive and rising Pac-12? Words that come to my mind are charisma, leadership, high expectations, aggressiveness, confidence, passion to win, strong recruiter and a brand developer. Is Riley any of those? He has next to no charisma (besides smacking gum and smiling as Quizz is thrown 10 yards out of bounds or as we suffer yet another blowout loss), his leadership is way sub par because he gets behind the 8 ball nearly every season with his slow starts, he is too slow to get more minutes for rising talent and he has never seized a moment or been able to build off better seasons in recruiting.
His expectations for a job well done is well known as 6 wins (to the detriment of the program which can see him only accomplish that level every other year and still potentially be stuck with those poor results through 2024). He is not aggressive. Sure he will go for 2 now and again but his batting average on that is below the statistical average. Riley is on the other end of the spectrum of a type like Harbaugh who instills a hard-nosed toughness into his players and belief that they can and should win every game they compete in. Confidence? Does the picture of Riley with his face buried in his hands instill confidence in you? Or the players? Or potential recruits? Passion to win? We are told Riley loves his job, but I also would love to be an astronaut. Doesn’t mean you should put me at the controls of the space shuttle.
Most concerning is Riley is a poor recruiter. Certain media apologists like to say he knows Corvallis and can recruit it as well as anyone, but that is simply hogwash. Riley has one recruit to this point while Arizona, Washington and even Washington State all have exciting, talented and growing classes already verballed. Do you really think Riley is going to land more than 1 of the hopeful offers he has out for a 4 star player? The odds are he might not get a single one of the bigger fish this year and it could be basically all turn the stone over 2 and 1 star guys with a few, hopefully, 3 stars thrown in. We should be VERY concerned. Every one of the 3 star guys to this point, and even the 2 star guys so far, is eschewing Riley and OSU and will only come here if everything else falls through and they can’t get the playing time they want. This is shaping up to be a class that likely will end up no better than 70th in the nation. More downtrending.
So how old do you want to get as we wait for Riley to have one more 8 win season? It may take him 4 years or longer for that. A 9 win season? Try 7 or more years. Riley would have been gone at 95% of all Pac-12 schools last year. Only at OSU was he safe for atleast one more year. As with everything in life it is about opportunity cost. What will we be giving up if we don’t replace Riley after this season when there is a strong chance he won’t do better than 6 wins? We will miss out on our best chance to redefine and rebrand OSU in decades. Why isn’t the fact that OSU is expected to get what should be exciting new branding and bolder uniform combinations next year attracting more recruits so far? The reason is that it isn’t a rebranding if the same boring captain of a sinking or atleast seriously floundering ship is at the helm.
Washington has been on a tear with its recruiting this week and just announced 8 more quality recruits. Justin Wilcox is known to be a beast recruiter and a charismatic personality that is drawing recruits like bees to honey. We could take leaps in our recruiting and brand next year if we are smart enough to hire him. If you compared the timing of when you need to be bold to get results in history to OSU’s situation one could even argue last year would have been a great time to hire him. That would have been like Napolean in his early battles that began to form his legend. Still, next year with the scheduled branding is also incredibly good timing. We would take him away from UW just as all their recruits get ready to play in a sparkling new Husky Stadium.
OSU would get national press for the hire next year and many more games on ESPN, Fox or premium slots on the Pac-12 Networks. Wilcox will cost us atleast 1.6 million a year if hired next year. That would be a doubling of his salary but if we waited it would very likely be higher and start to get close to 2 million a year. What is the Sun Tzu move in this? To time it when it has the maximum benefit for OSU and the maximum detriment to our Pac-12 North rivals. That is next year! If we got Wilcox for 2015 or 2016 instead of 2013 would the branding have the same compelling story behind it? NO! It will already have been laughed off as more Riley “who cares, they are just a passive Mayberry program” by the rest of the Pac-12. We can’t be paralyzed to act when the timing will be right on so many levels after another mediocre at best year from Riley. If we get Wilcox after this season we will have all those traits that are most crucial in a head coach and can have energy and excitement in our program that coincides with a bold new image that puts OSU on the national scene.