The Riley Factor

PULLMAN — Jerome Riley is an after-thought no more. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound JC transfer whom Mike Price offered a scholarship sight-unseen in the desperate wake of the NCAA's Milton Wynn outrage produced two highlight-reel plays for the Cougars on Saturday against Cal.


"God help the other teams that have to play our offense."

Cougar linebacker
Raonall Smith

"At Martin Stadium, you definitely have to wear shades — and some of the time, it's actually because the future's just so darned bright. The Cougars are 3-0 for the 23rd time in their 106 years of football after Saturday's neo-traditional humiliation of Cal, this one penciling out at 51-20 with numerous adjustments to the Wazzu record book in front of another maddeningly puny turnout — the smallest, in fact, since 1993."

John Blanchette,

"In reeling off 24 consecutive points to turn a 13-6 second-quarter deficit into a 37-13 third-quarter cushion, the Cougars (3-0) made a case for their qualifications as a conference sleeper.... But the Bears (0-3) once again went to great lengths to cast their foe in the most flattering light, exposing in the process all the flaws of a program in the throes of desperation."

Oakland Tribune

"Washington State, the dregs of the Pac-10 for the past three seasons, made Cal look like a small college during a 51-20 romp. Cal, which led 10-3 in the first quarter before being outscored 48-10 the rest of the way, is setting records for futility."

Contra Costa Times

"I haven't seen this before. Well, I did have some high school teams that played like this, at Albany High."

Cal defensive coordinator
Lyle Setencich, a 20-year
college veteran

"All this came at the expense of Cal defensive backs — outplayed, out of position and often missing badly on tackles."

San Francisco Examiner

"Why not Washington State against Florida State in the Seattle Bowl? Why not? The Cougars were as good as the Seminoles were bad yesterday."

Blaine Newnham,
Seattle Times

In the process he became part of Palouse lore, joining NaKoa McElrath and Mike Bush as the Cougars' only pass-catching threesome to rack up 100 yards or more each in a single game.

Bobo-Pointer-Davis never did it. The Fab Five never did it. Cogdill-Ellingson-Fanning never did it.

And the best part of it all? Price said he never even watched film of the crafty flanker during the recruiting process. He simply took the word of some trusted minds in the JC ranks that the kid could play. Thirsty for some receiving depth with the Wynn situation unraveling, Price added Riley to the 2001 recruiting class at the last minute.

When a wide-open Riley dropped a sure-TD pass in the opener against Idaho, Price may have had some second thoughts.

After the Cal game, the only people with second thoughts will be the rest of the Pac-10's head coaches who didn't try to nab the kid. Riley has size, athleticism, hands and the moves of Michael Jordan.

Just ask Cal's secondary. With the Cougs trailing 13-6. Riley went deep, connecting with Jason Gesser on a 41-yard TD aerial. Late in the third quarter he took a Gesser pass and then proceeded to fake a Cal defender out of his proverbial jock strap. Riley wasn't hauled down until the play had covered 55 yards and he was on the Cal 4, setting up a TD from Gesser to Naoka McElrath moments later.

He finished the day with three catches for 124 yards.

Riley is a Van Buys, Calif., product who earned all-league recognition at LA Valley College in 1999 and then sat out the 2000 campaign.

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