Head football coach Mike Riley has been fired from Nebraska after the school’s worst final record since 1961, athletic director Bill Moos announced Saturday.
CORVALLIS – Mike Riley is returning to the Oregon State football program for a third tour of duty, this time as an assistant coach under first-year head coach Jonathan Smith.
Riley, who was the Beavers’ head coach from 1997-98 and 2003-14, was fired Nov. 25 after three seasons as head coach at Nebraska. He’ll have a to-be-determined position assignment.
Riley had a 93-80 record in 14 seasons at OSU, and has the most wins of any coach in school history. He brought Smith in as a walk-on quarterback in 1997, and Smith would go on to become the Beavers’ starting quarterback from 1998-2001, which included the 2000 Fiesta Bowl season.
When Smith was officially introduced as OSU’s next head football coach Nov. 30, he noted that his former coaches at OSU – Riley and Dennis Erickson – could have a role on his staff.
“Current and former players thriving in the NFL and in life are proof of coach Riley’s tremendous ability to recruit outstanding young men,” Smith said in a statement Thursday. “He understands what it takes to win in this conference, and how to evaluate student-athletes. There is no one better to have represent OSU in the homes of recruits as we build this program.”
During his time at OSU, Riley coached current NFL quarterbacks Derek Anderson (Carolina Panthers) and Matt Moore (Miami Dolphins), All-American wide receiver Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots) and former All-Pro running back Steven Jackson.
Smith will earn $1.9 million annually for the next five years, according to an agreement he has signed with the University. OSU has allocated a salary pool of $3.3 million annually for assistant coaches.
Riley was 19-19 at Nebraska and the Cornhuskers were 4-8 this season, the school’s worst record since 1961. He was replaced by Scott Frost, quarterback at Nebraska who spent the past two seasons as head coach at Central Florida.
Riley led OSU to eight bowl games in his 14 seasons, including 10 wins in 2006.