Is there a chance Oregon State Beaver's head football coach Mike Riley could be in line for the vacant head coaching position at Alabama? It would seem to be a perfect fit for the 53 year old coach of the Beavers.
Although he is from Corvallis, Mike Riley played for Coach "Bear" Bryant from 1970 through 1974. Riley was a member of the Crimson Tide's 1973 National Championship team, and played a critical role as a defensive back during his career at Alabama.
If you think about it, the move makes sense for many different reasons. First, it is well known that Alabama likes to hire its own, and in particular likes to hire coaches who played for Coach Bryant. Riley is both an alumnus of Alabama and played for Coach Bryant. None of the other candidates names that have surfaced so far have the same ties to Alabama as Riley.
Second, while the other names like Petrino and Spurrier and Rodriguez may have better overall records, what Riley has managed to accomplish at Oregon State is nothing short of a miracle. Oregon State Football suffered 28 straight losing seasons, and while Riley never had a winning record in his first stint as the Beavers head coach (this is his second time coaching the Beavs....he left in 1998 to coach the San Diego Chargers for three years) Riley recruited the players that led OSU to a winning record in 1999 and an 11-1 record in 2000 - finishing 4th in the national polls and beating Notre Dame 41 - 9 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Since returning to Oregon State, Riley has maintained a new winning tradition in a program that has a reputation for losing, culminating in a 6-3 PAC-10 record in 2006, including beating USC, ranked second in the country. And don't forget, prior to coaching at Oregon State, Riley was the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, where Riley won a Grey Cup.
Riley knows how to run a successful football program. And put in its proper perspective, Riley's success at Oregon State matches with the success of just about any other coach in the country. Don't believe me? Remember, it was Riley's Beavers that came within an extra point of beating a top-ranked LSU team three years ago - in Baton Rouge.
Third, Riley has maintained his contacts in the Southeast. After being fired from his head coaching position with the San Diego Chargers, Riley served as the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints. In his second tour of duty with the Beavers, Riley has consistently recruited from both Louisiana and Florida. He has not lost his contacts with the Southeast even though he is coaching in the Pacific Northwest, which would benefit him if he were at the helm of the Crimson Tide.
Fourth, Riley is a man of character and faith, someone the Tide Faithful could easily get behind. Prior to his second stint at Oregon State, the Beavers football program was out of control and having a difficult time handling its new found success. Beaver players were arrested for - among other things - beating up a Marine the night before the soldier was headed to Iraq and another incident in which a player stole a gay sheep from Oregon State's sheep barn. Since returning to Oregon State, Riley has cleaned up the program considerably, restoring discipline, while maintaining Oregon State's new winning tradition.
Fifth, Riley program produces NFL caliber players. Right now there are more Beavers playing in the NFL than ever before. Need some names? How about Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmanzadeh, Steven Jackson, Nick Barnett and the Saints' James Allen. Last year the Beavers had the best wide receiver in the country - Biletnikoff award winner Mike Hass - as well as the best placekicker in the country - Lou Groza award winner Alexis Serna.
Finally, Riley coaches in a BCS conference, is familiar with the politics of coaching in such a conference, and yet is among the lowest paid coaches at any BCS school. In short, Riley could probably be had for a song.
The bottom line is this....before the Crimson Tide go looking for a "big name" outside of the Alabama family, I suggest Alabama call on one of its own - a big name in his own right -- to lead the Tide back to the promised land.