Big Board 7.0: The Riley Factor

Looking for just the third head coach at Wisconsin football since 1990, news surfaced late Thursday that Oregon State head coach Mike Riley will be interviewing for the Badgers opening this week. We have the latest on what we're hearing on Riley and other options at Wisconsin.

MADISON - As the Wisconsin coaching search enters its second week, there finally is a substantial name associated with the vacancy: Mike Riley.

Two sources with supposed ‘direct knowledge' of the situation told CBS Sports that the Oregon State head coach is interviewing this week at Wisconsin.

Riley, 59, is 73-52 since taking over the Oregon State job for the second time in 2003 and is coming off a 9-3 finish (including a win over Wisconsin in its season opener) and a trip Alamo Bowl, not to mention NFL experience as the San Diego Chargers' head coach prior to coming back to Corvallis.

The only problem with this is that other than CBS Sports, everybody else says the reporter is false or has serious holes. Athletic director Bob De Carolis told The Oregonian Thursday night that he had heard nothing about Riley interviewing for the position. This was later confirmed by the Corvallis Gazette-Times and an ESPN Pac 12 blogger.

Based on his Oregon State bio, Riley entered the season under contract until 2019, and his contract rolls one year for every time the Beavers play in a bowl game. That contract pays him a reported $1.5 million per year.

According to the Gazette-Times beat reporter Cliff Kirkpatrick, Riley's contract, which was extended in 2010, is such that it's nearly impossible to buyout. Apparently, OSU and Riley did that for a reason.

So not only do we have all those people saying no, we have the two people I talked to – one who is very close to Alvarez – telling me that Riley is not coming to Wisconsin, especially since Riley is older than what Alvarez was when he retired. Anything can happen, but we don't believe the reports at this time.

Options with head coaching experience

Paul Rhoads

Why he is here:Rhoads' name has been circling for the last week and his name continues to be mentioned in some fashioned as having interest in UW. The two sides have had contact.

Coaching stops Iowa State (2009-present), Auburn DC/DB (2008), Pittsburgh DC (2000-2007), Iowa State LB/DB (1995-1999), Pacific DB (1992-1994)

His experience: In his first year at Iowa State, the Cyclones held three conference opponents to 10 points or less for the first time since 1965. Iowa State was 68th nationally in red zone defense in 2008. In 2009, the Cyclones ranked second-best among 120 FBS teams in that category. Iowa State's defenders were ninth nationally in turnovers forced. The Cyclones defeated the Nebraska in Lincoln for the first time since 1977 and Rhoads is the first Iowa State coach to win six games in his initial season since 1915. Iowa State capped its season with a victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

Iowa State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 North Division, but Rhoades led the Cyclones to the program's first win in Austin over Texas and finished tied for third in the Big 12 North. Last season Rhoads helped lead the program to its first win in Lubbock against Texas Tech and shocked the college football world with a home victory over No.2 Oklahoma State in November.

Rhoads' team, which was an underdog in 11 of its 12 BCS games in 2011, capped off the season in Yankee Stadium in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York. For the second straight year, the Cyclones won six games, narrowly upset Kansas State, did upset then-No.15 TCU and will finish the season playing a bowl game (AutoZone Liberty Bowl Dec. 31).

On December 16, 2011, the school announced a 10-year contract worth $20M for Rhoads, but the passion he brings the table can't be denied. Rhoads is a young head coach (45) that has won big games despite not getting the biggest, best recruits.

Barry Alvarez

Why he is here:The winningest coach in Wisconsin program history. His 8-3 record bowl game is the best in college history among coaches with 11 career appearances.

Coaching stops Wisconsin (1990-2005), Notre Dame DC (1988-1989), Notre Dame LB (1987), Iowa LB (1979-1986).

His experience: Alvarez said repeatedly two days after Bielema left that he would find the right game, that he's not coming out of retirement and he's not going to coach in 2013. But he's also joked that a lot of the candidates on his short list have taken other jobs. Alvarez is a smart guy, without question, and he's not going to try and fit a square peg in a round hole.

So if he can't find the right candidate, he might as well take the job himself. The idea of Alvarez coaching a year and getting a better jump in the coaching hunt next season isn't out of the realm of possibilities. In fact, it was already mentioned by a NFL scout to ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg. I'll reiterate that it's unlikely, but it makes a lot more sense than some of the coaches who have already been tied to the program.

Current Coordinators

Bob Diaco

Why he is here: Diaco is in the market for a head coaching job and has been doing interviews, including for the head coaching job at Temple. Alvarez likes to makes hires of people that are cut from the same cloth that he is. Diaco certainly fits that bill.

Coaching stops Notre Dame DC (2010-present), Cincinnati DC (2009), Virginia LB/ST (2006-2008), Central Michigan co-DC/LB (2005), Western Michigan LB/ST (2004), Eastern Michigan RB/LB (2001-2003).

His experience: Promoted to assistant head coach prior to the season, Diaco has played an integral part in the Irish being ranked No.1 in the country and playing Alabama in the national championship game.

Notre Dame ranks first in the nation in scoring defense and have one of the best front sevens in the college game, led by dynamic linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te'o. This isn't a one year blip either, as the Irish's 2011 defense ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense (24th, 20.7), total defense (30th, 344.7), rushing defense (47th, 138.9) and passing defense (38th, 205.8).

It was only the second time since 2003 and fourth time in the last 15 seasons a Notre Dame defense ranked in the top 50 in all four categories.

Diaco's coaching career has spanned a better part of the Midwest and, like Alvarez, is a former Iowa assistant and a disciple of Hayden Fry. Diaco is evidentially ready to be a head coach, as he was a finalist for the Boston College coaching vacancy, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Here is Diaco's acceptance speech from the Broyles Award banquet

Darrell Bevell

Why he is here: Bevell doesn't have college coaching ties, but does have ties to the state and is a former Wisconsin quarterback. He has expressed interest in the past of returning to Wisconsin where he led UW to Rose Bowls and worked with Green Bay for six years, serving three as quarterbacks coach.

Coaching stops Seattle OC (2011-Present), Minnesota OC (2006-2010), Green Bay QB (2003-2005) Green Bay Asst. (2000-2002), UConn WR (1998-1999).

His experience: A four-year starter for the Badgers, Bevell helped guide the team to a 10-1-1 mark as a sophomore in 1993. The squad claimed a share of the Big Ten championship for the first time since 1962 and defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Bevell helped UW go 18-4-2. He left Madison as the school's all-time leading passer with 19 team records and a pair of Big Ten marks. His 67.8 percent completion mark set in 1993 stood as the conference record until 2010, and he was a 61.4 percent passer for his career.

Bevell is in his second season leading Seattle Seahawks' offense after spending five seasons (2006-10) as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.

Joe Rudolph

Why he is here: A tenacious recruiter, Rudolph is finishing his first season as a coordinator and is a huge favorite of Alvarez. A source at Pittsburgh told us earlier this week that Rudolph would be interested if he was contacted about the job, which hasn't happened to this point.

Coaching stops Pittsburgh OC/TE (2012-present), Wisconsin TE (2008-2011), Nebraska TE (2007), Ohio State offensive graduate assistant coach and strength coordinator (2004-06).

His experience: A member of Alvarez's first recruiting class, Rudolph twice earned All-Big Ten honors as an offensive lineman and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. In 1993 he helped the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record, the Big Ten title and first Rose Bowl victory in school history with a 21-16 decision over UCLA. As a senior in 1994, Rudolph served as a team captain and helped lead Wisconsin to an 8-3-1 record and 34-20 win over Duke in the Hall of Fame Bowl.

Rudolph was a huge loss for Wisconsin and Alvarez is extremely fond of him. Rudolph working this past season as offensive coordinator is a huge help for him in his quest to one day run his own program. He may not be the most experienced, but he has a lot of supporters still in Madison.

Pat Narduzzi

Why he is here: Michigan State's defensive coordinator is primed to be a head coach and has paid his dues. Narduzzi is a lot like Diaco – a sound, defensive-minded coach.

Coaching stops Michigan State DC (2007-present), Cincinnati DC (2004-2006), Miami (Ohio) DC (2003), Northern Illinois LB (2000-2002).

His experience: In his sixth season as Michigan State's defensive coordinator, Narduzzi has developed the Spartans into one of the top defensive teams in the nation. In 2011, Narduzzi's defense had its best showing since his arrival in East Lansing.

Michigan State led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 ypg.), interceptions (18) and third-down defense (.337). This season, Michigan State can thank its defense as the only reason they are going to a bowl game, as the unit ranks 10th in the country in points allowed (16.3 ppg).

Badger Nation Top Stories