After the big announcement of Mike Riley's return to The Nation on Thursday, I haven't been able to get that damn song out of my head. For some, having a classic Who tune running around in your skull is a good thing. Not me...I was never a big fan of British Invasion rock (including the Stones), so it pretty much sucks.
But, more importantly, it can’t be farther from the truth.
Bobby D. and his crew exercised due diligence, conducted a thorough search of viable and well-qualified candidates (including some we will never know about) and chose Mike Riley.
Beaver Nation couldn’t be more fortunate.
All you had to do was listen and watch the press conference to quickly realize that Mike Riley A.D. (After Dennis) is a vast improvement over Mike Riley B.D. (Before Dennis)…and Mike B.D. was a great guy and a damn good coach.
He looks physically fit, sports a soon-to-fade tan and is even more likeable than Mike B.D., if that’s humanly possible. Here is a guy that could get along with every nut log at the United Nations. That’s especially impressive after spending 4 years in the NFL coaching meat grinder.
But some of our Beaver Nation citizens have responded in a lukewarm manner. Well, let me try to heat them up.
If you’re still cranky about his early departure and question his loyalty, get over it. If you turned down a job at one of the top positions in your profession, at three times the pay, you’d be a fool, or at least a misguided idealist, regardless of how things turned out once you got there. And, lest we forget, his departure brought us Dennis Maximus, the first winning season in 28 years, bowl games, crumbling school records, the Traux Center, the Raising Reser stadium expansion, a #4 national ranking and a Fiesta Bowl thumping of the Golden Dome.
But Mike A.D. knew that his early departure would be a concern, so he told Bobby D. to throw a hefty buyout on any deal they crafted. Bob countered with a $1,000,000 clause for the first five years and Mike A.D. didn’t even flinch. Bob could have thrown in a non-compete clause, permanent banishment from the State of Oregon and his first-born child and it wouldn’t have mattered…he’s got something to prove. Still have an issue? Grab a tissue.
If you think there was a better coach out there, don’t quit your day job. OSU football deserved and needed a seasoned NFL or power-conference coach, not an unproven assistant, a geriatric or a youngster from one of the “fun and gun” schools, to grow The Nation’s momentum. Mission accomplished. Besides, if you’re Bobby D., whom are you going to take advice from…a bunch of loyal, well-meaning armchair quarterbacks in a chat room or Super Bowl champion coaches Jon Gruden and Brian Billick? If you like to gamble, head to Vegas or play Powerball, but don’t pick our head coach. His offense will be more balanced than Dennis’ and his assistants will be fresh and free of the cronyism. You can take it to the bank that nobody on Bobby D.’s long, medium or short list even came close.
And so, Beaver Nation, we have a new boss and he’s far from the old boss.
He’s a man who’s come full circle. He’s introspective, sincere, focused and humble. He took shots from the media and smoothly deflected them to somewhere south of Medford. His face was permanently fixed in a childlike grin and his body oozed with excitement and anticipation. He made it clear to anyone who would listen, that Mike B.D. made a mistake in leaving, but Mike A.D. returns a better coach and, more importantly, a better man. As lucky as Beaver Nation was to land Dennis when Mike B.D. left, we’re luckier and better with the arrival of Mike A.D. In ten minutes Wednesday night, Mike A.D. had the players grinning right along with him. Shortly after 2:00 PM Thursday, I was too.
Now if I could just get that song out of my noggin, life will be perfect.