|Mike Riley Biography|
Courtesy: Athletic Communications
Updated April 1, 2013
“Mike Riley is the best guy in college football.”
Any number of people from current players, ex-players, coaches at all levels or anyone who has ever met him could acknowledge that; it was national sports media personality Jim Rome who made that statement following an interview during the 2012 season.
Coach Riley could very well be the best guy in college football, but he is also ranks among the best coaches in the game. He owns the most wins ever at Oregon State with 81, the team has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 28 weeks, has coached 22 All-Americans and 28 NFL Draft picks (thru the 2011 season).
The longest tenured coach in the Pac-12, in his 13th season, has a resume that sparkles with achievements. He was the 2008 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Pac-10 Conference and State of Oregon Coach of the Year, and his teams have appeared in the final Associated Press top-25 rankings in three of the last six seasons. In 2012 he was selected the AFCA Region Coach of the Year.
The 60-year-old head coach has guided the Beavers to seven bowl games in the last 10 years. The Beavers are 5-2 with Riley at the helm in bowl games after he started the rejuvenation of the program during his first tenure in 1997 and ‘98 that subsequently made three postseason appearances. When he took control of the program in the winter of 1997, Oregon State was mired in a streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons. While his first two teams did not post winning marks, the competitiveness of the program increased dramatically and the foundation was laid for teams that would play in bowl games in 10 of the next 14 years.
Riley has 52 Pac-10/12 victories, which ranks 13th in the conference record book. Legendary coaches Jim Owens (Washington), Bruce Snyder (Cal, ASU), Rich Brooks (Oregon) and Dick Tomey (Arizona) are all within his reach for the 2013 season which would move him into the top-10 all-time for league wins.
He has also led his team to outstanding success in the classroom, where over the last five years Beavers have been honored by the league for academic achievement 64 times.
Riley’s pro style approach to how he manages the program has paid dividends to players who have gone on to successful professional careers. Twenty-one former Beavers who were coached by Riley were in the NFL as of Dec. 1, 2012, including quarterbacks Matt Moore (Miami) and Derek Anderson (Carolina), running back Steven Jackson (St. Louis) and defensive back Brandon Browner (Seattle). Anderson, Jackson and Browner have each earned Pro Bowl honors.
Riley is the first coach in OSU history to win more than one NCAA-sanctioned bowl game at OSU, capturing the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl, the 2004 Insight Bowl, the 2006 and 2008 Sun Bowls, and the 2007 Emerald Bowl titles. He also is the first coach to lead the program to more than one winning conference season (5-3 in ’04, 6-3 in ’06, 6-3 in ’07, 7-2 in ’08 and 6-3 in ’09 and 6-3 in ‘12) since 1969.
Under Riley, Oregon State has not been shy about playing challenging non-conference games. Since 2003, 10 of the 13 out of league road opponents have finished the season in the AP-top 25 (thru 2012 season). He’s also experienced success against top-25 teams winning 12 games, including three times against teams ranked No. 3 or higher.
It’s difficult to select the best season Oregon State has had with Riley at the helm. The 2006 team certainly is at the top of charts as it is the second club in OSU history to capture at least 10 victories. The Beavers won eight of their final nine games, including defeating No. 3 USC and ending the Trojans’ 27-game Pac-10 win streak. OSU also ended a lengthy Aloha Stadium win streak of Hawai’i and capped off the year with a thrilling victory over Missouri (39-38) in arguably the best Sun Bowl ever played. The final summary of the season showed OSU finishing third in the Pac-10, just one game behind co-winners USC and California. OSU ended the year ranked No. 21 in the final AP Poll.
His 2012 team was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North, yet went 6-3 in league and 9-4 overall. The team was ranked in the Associated Press Poll a school- record 12 consecutive weeks, including as high as No. 7. The Beavers opened the year with victories over No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 19 UCLA, and posted the third-best conference record behind a pair of BCS bowl teams.
The 2008 Beavers lost more starters than any other Pac-10 team, but Riley and his staff found replacements within the program to turn what was expected to be a rebuilding year into a 9-4 season and the program’s second-best ever mark in the Pac-10 Conference at 7-2 (tied for second). All of this while playing a schedule that was considered one of the toughest in the nation that included three BCS bowl teams (USC, Utah, Penn State). The keynote victory of the season was a 27-21 win over then-No. 1 USC in a nationally televised Thursday game. The season culminated with a 3-0 victory over No. 18 Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl, a game OSU played without two of the team’s top three offensive weapons – Pac-10 Offensive MVP and All-America running back Jacquizz Rodgers and his brother receiver James Rodgers. The team ended the year No. 18 in the final Associated Press Poll and No. 19 in the USA Today.
His 2007 team won seven of the final eight games on the way to a 9-4 mark, just one game behind co-Pac-10 champions USC and Arizona State at 6-3 in the league. OSU won at No. 2 California when a Bear victory would have moved them to No. 1 and beat No. 18 Oregon in Eugene. The defensive unit finished first in the nation against the run and accumulated the most yards lost via tackles than any other team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Beavers put the finishing touches to the season and a No. 25 final ranking with a victory over Maryland in the Emerald Bowl.
Riley returned to the Beaver sideline for the second time in 2003 and led the team to the Las Vegas Bowl title over New Mexico. The team set numerous individual and team records, and led the Pac-10 for both offense and defense. He followed up the ’03 team’s success by signing the program’s best ever recruiting class, according to several scouting organizations.
In 2004 the team accepted the challenge of playing both ’03 defending national champions, the eventual 2004 national champions and faced one of the most difficult schedules overall in the nation. The team fought through early setbacks before defeating Oregon in the annual Civil War in then record fashion. The victory over the archrivals propelled OSU to a convincing 38-21 victory over Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl. The Beavers closed 2004 winning six of their final seven games and pushing Orange Bowl/National champion USC to the wire.
In 2009, Riley and his staff had a monumental task of replacing nearly every starter on defense and a total of seven NFL draftees. The Beavers not only qualified for a bowl game, but also for the second straight year played the season finale for the opportunity to receive the Rose Bowl berth. A league-high seven Beavers earned first team All-Pac-10 honors and the team finished higher than the preseason predictions for the fourth consecutive year.
While the 2010 team did not qualify for a bowl game, there were still plenty of highlights. The Beavers played the most difficult schedule in the nation competing against four teams that finished the year in the top seven of the national polls, and winning two games over top-25 clubs. OSU featured Stephen Paea (DT) earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and for the second time was named the recipient of the league’s Morris Trophy, awarded to the conference’s top defensive lineman. Jacquizz Rodgers earned Pac-10 First Team for the third consecutive season and joined just two other former Pac-10 running backs (Napolean Kauffman and Charles White) as three-time honorees. Riley also led the “Beaver Nation” charge to school records for average home attendance (45,509) and for season ticket sales (26,952).
Riley left Oregon State after the 1998 season to pursue a unique opportunity to become the head coach of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers. He spent four years in the NFL, returning to Oregon State after a one-year stint as an assistant with the New Orleans Saints. Riley was a popular choice when he was originally hired for the position in late December of 1996 and was equally as popular upon his hiring the second time.
He calls Corvallis his hometown, although he was born in Wallace, Idaho. He grew up watching Beaver football, as his father Bud was an assistant coach for the program from 1965-72 and again in 1979. Mike was a standout quarterback at Corvallis High School, leading the Spartans to the 1970 state title.
Riley, who already had coaching in his blood at a young age, made the decision to continue playing the sport in college at the University of Alabama for legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He played cornerback from 1971-74, helping the Tide to four Southeastern Conference titles and the 1973 national championship.
Riley immediately launched a successful coaching career following his graduation from Alabama. His first stop was as a defensive graduate assistant coach for Mike White at the University of California in 1975. He helped the Bears to an 8-3 record and a share of the Pacific-8 Conference title, the first and only for the program since the Pac-8/10 Conference was formed in 1968.
He continued his education and his coaching in 1976 at Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. He finished his master’s degree in physical education in 1977 while working for the popular Pacific Northwest coach and future Canadian Football League legend Hugh Campbell.
Riley’s first full-time appointment came at NAIA powerhouse Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. From 1977-82 he served as the program’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach, as well as assistant athletic director. Riley assisted head coach Ad Rutschman’s Wildcats to a six-year record of 52-7-1, which included five conference titles and the 1982 undefeated NAIA title team.
An opportunity to coach in the professional ranks presented itself following the ’82 season, and Riley was on his way to the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the secondary coach. During his three-years as an assistant, Winnipeg produced a 32-15-1 mark and won the 1984 Grey Cup title.
Riley returned to the college level in 1986 as an assistant coach at the University of Northern Colorado, before being named the youngest coach in CFL history in 1987 with Winnipeg at 33-years of age. Riley guided the Bombers to two Grey Cup titles (1988, ’90) and was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year in those seasons. He was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame June 13, 2007.
In 1991 Riley took over the San Antonio Riders of the World Football League, spending two seasons before the league suspended its North American operations.
He returned to the college ranks in 1993 when then-USC head coach John Robinson offered him the position of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach – he later became assistant head coach. The Mesa (Ariz.) Tribune named him the league’s top assistant coach in 1993 after leading the Trojans’ offense to record setting numbers. Then USC quarterback Rob Johnson earned numerous Pac-10 and NCAA records, and would later become a first-round draft pick.
Riley remained at USC through the 1997 season, helping the Trojans to victories in the Rose, Cotton, and Freedom Bowls. USC won one outright league title, shared another and finished second one time.
In addition, Riley has been the head coach for three postseason all-star games – the Hula Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.
Mike and his wife Dee are the parents of one son, Matthew, and one daughter, Kate. They also have a grandson, Elijah Jo. Matthew is an OSU graduate and is currently an employee at the University of Texas. Kate is a 2011 OSU graduate and also resides in Corvallis. Mike has two brothers; Edward Riley is a physician and Associate Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Pete Riley is a scientist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Mike Riley is under contract at OSU through 2020 – his contract rolls over one year for every time the team plays in a bowl game.
His success at all levels is well documented. Riley has earned the respect of players, coaches, media and fans. He has been called the savior of Oregon State football and the future continues to look bright for the Orange and Black.RILEY PROFILE
Assignment: Head Coach
Year at OSU: 13th
Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon
Education: 1977, Master’s in Physical Education from Whitworth College
1975, Bachelor’s of Social Science from the Univ. of Alabama
Children: Matthew and Kate
RILEY’S OREGON STATE RECORD
Year Record Accomplishment
1997 3-8 Total revamp of the program
1998 5-6 Best OSU record in 27 years
2003 8-5 Las Vegas Bowl Champions
2004 7-5 Insight Bowl Champions
2005 5-6 Five First Team All-Pac-10 selections
2006 10-4 Sun Bowl Champions
2007 9-4 Emerald Bowl Champions
2008 9-4 Sun Bowl Champions
2009 8-5 Las Vegas Bowl participant
2010 5-7 Two wins over Top-25 teams
2011 3-9 Three All-America selections
2012 9-4 Alamo Bowl trip
LONGEST TENURED FBS COACHES
Dec. 22, 1986 – Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Dec. 3, 1990 – Larry Blakeney, Troy
Dec. 3, 1997 –Mack Brown, Texas
Dec. 1, 1998 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Dec. 2, 1998 – Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Nov. 30, 2000 – Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Dec. 8, 2000 – Gary Patterson, TCU
Dec. 11, 2000 – Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Dec. 26, 2000 – Mark Richt, Georgia
Feb. 19, 2003 – Mike Riley, Oregon State