Mike Riley is returning to Oregon State.
The Beavers announced Thursday that Riley would be joining Jonathan Smith’s staff as assistant head coach. Riley previously was the Oregon State head coach from 2003 to 2014, and also 1997 to ’98.
Riley was fired Nov. 25 as head coach at Nebraska after going 19-19 over three seasons.
Smith, a former Beavers quarterback, was a graduate assistant at Oregon State under Riley in 2003. Smith was hired Nov. 29 by the Beavers after a 1-11 season that included Gary Andersen resigning midway through his third year.
During his time with the Beavers, Riley developed a reputation for developing quarterbacks and pulling the occasional big upset. With a stint in the NFL as coach of the San Diego Chargers, he also showed a knack for recruiting players who were successful at the pro level.
“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 released by Oregon State. “He understands what it takes to win in this conference, and how to evaluate and develop student-athletes. There is no one better to have represent OSU in the homes of recruits as we build this program.”
Riley grew up in Corvallis, and his father Bud was an assistant at Oregon State.
Smith came to the Beavers from Washington, where he was quarterbacks coach under Chris Petersen. A walk-on at Oregon State, he helped lead the Beavers to a Fiesta Bowl victory following the 2000 season.
Also returning to Oregon State is Dan Van De Riet, who will be the Beavers’ chief of staff/director of football operations. Van De Riet had followed Riley from OSU to Nebraska and was the Huskers’ associate athletic director for football administration the past three years.
Bray had served as NU interim coach between the firing of Riley and hiring of Scott Frost.
“Jonathan needs to enjoy being named head coach,” Riley said. “If there’s a fit somewhere — coach or consult — yeah, that’d be awesome. But it has to be the right fit for him.”
Regarding coaching again, however, Riley said: “I still feel young and have the energy to do it.”
Riley posted a 93-80 all-time record at Oregon State, including eight bowl trips and a 10-win season in 2006. His Beavers famously knocked off No. 3 Southern California at home in 2006, No. 2 California on the road in 2007, No. 1 USC at home in 2008 and No. 9 Arizona on the road in 2010.
He also previously was a head coach with San Diego in the NFL, Winnipeg in the CFL and San Antonio in the WLAF.
Per terms of his Nebraska contract, which runs through February 2021, Riley could have been owed more than $6.6 million in compensation. But his monthly payments of $170,000 will now be adjusted based on what his Oregon State contract will pay him.
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Prior to Nebraska: Mike Riley spent 14 seasons over two stints as the head coach at Oregon State — in his hometown of Corvallis — where he went 93-80 overall. Riley, who played in college under Bear Bryant at Alabama and was also an NFL head coach for three years, was coming off a 5-7 season with the Beavers in 2014 before he came to Lincoln.
Dec. 4, 2014: After a four-day search, then-Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst announced Oregon State’s Mike Riley would succeed Bo Pelini as Nebraska’s football coach. During his introductory press conference the next day, Riley said “we are in this together to build young men and win championships, and they don’t have to be exclusive of one another. We’re going to do it the right way.”
Feb. 4, 2015: Mike Riley signed his first Nebraska recruiting class, which ranked No. 30 nationally on the 247Sports composite. The class featured nine players that had committed to Bo Pelini but stuck with the Huskers and six who picked Nebraska in the week leading up to national signing day.
Sept. 5, 2015: Mike Riley’s first game at Nebraska ended in heartbreak as BYU won with a Hail Mary in Memorial Stadium.
Nov. 7, 2015: Mike Riley earned his first victory over a ranked opponent — one of only two he’d have during his Nebraska career — after defeating then-No. 6 Michigan State with a controversial 30-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Reilly with 17 seconds remaining.
Nov. 27, 2015: Mike Riley concluded his first regular season in Nebraska with a 28-20 loss to then-No. 3 Iowa. The Huskers finished the year 5-7 but still qualified for a bowl thanks to the program’s Academic Progress Rate. NU would go on to defeat UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Feb. 3, 2016: Mike Riley signed his second Nebraska recruiting class, a group that ranked No. 26 nationally with four four-star recruits and two ranked in the top 125 overall.
Feb. 5, 2016: Mike Riley fired his first assistant coach at Nebraska — defensive line coach Hank Hughes. Less than three weeks later, Riley hired former Husker John Parrella to replace Hughes.
June 5, 2016: Dressed in a red “Calibraska” t-shirt, Mike Riley and the Husker coaches conducted a satellite camp in California. That camp was one example of Riley’s push to attract recruits from California. Nebraska signed seven recruits from that state in the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes.
July 23, 2016: Nebraska punter Sam Foltz died in a car accident. “This day will be stuck in time forever,” Mike Riley said after a team meeting the following day. Foltz’s memory became a rallying point for Riley and the Huskers throughout the 2016 season.
Sept. 17, 2016: After losing his last seven games against Oregon while at Oregon State, Mike Riley got the “duck” off his back by defeating then-No. 22 Oregon, 35-32, in Memorial Stadium.
Oct. 22, 2016: Nebraska moved to 7-0 with a 27-14 victory over Purdue. It was the Huskers’ best start since 2001, and NU would be ranked as high as No. 7 in the country.
Nov. 25, 2016: Nebraska finished Mike Riley’s second regular season with losses in three of its final five games, including a 40-10 beatdown to Iowa in the finale. The Huskers would also go on to lose to Tennessee in the bowl game.
Jan. 11, 2017: Mike Riley announced the firing of defensive coordinator Mark Banker, who had coached with Riley for nearly two decades. Banker was one of three assistants to leave the program during that offseason — special teams coordinator Bruce Read, another longtime Riley disciple, was fired two days after the Iowa game, and cornerbacks coach Brian Stewart left to become Rice’s defensive coordinator. “I have come to the realization that I have to evaluate this thing all the time, every day, and do what’s best for the program,” Riley would later say.
Jan. 14, 2017: Mike Riley hired Bob Diaco to replace Mark Banker as defensive coordinator. Diaco — who had recently been fired as head coach at UConn but had previously built highly-ranked defenses at Notre Dame — was believed to be someone who could quickly fix the Blackshirts’ issues. Riley would later hire assistant coaches Donte Williams (cornerbacks) and Bob Elliott (safeties). Elliott died before the 2017 season and was replaced by Scott Booker.
Feb. 1, 2017: Mike Riley signed another impressive recruiting class that ranked No. 23 nationally with six four-star recruits, including one (Tyjon Lindsey) who was among the country’s top 50 prospects. The Huskers also landed two commitments on this day, including defensive lineman Damion Daniels (pictured).
Sept. 16, 2017: Nebraska fell to 1-2 after a 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois. It was the Huskers’ first loss to a team from a Group of Five conference since 2004.
Sept. 21, 2017: Nebraska fired Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst, who had hired Mike Riley less than three years prior. NU administrators said they “weren’t satisfied with the results” across all sports — not just football — in explaining their decision. NU President Hank Bounds would later say “this is not about Mr. Riley right now.”
Oct. 14, 2017: A week after losing by 24 to Wisconsin, the Huskers fell to Ohio State, 56-14, at Memorial Stadium. It was the second-worst home conference loss in program history, and in two games against the Buckeyes under Mike Riley, the Huskers lost by a combined 101 points.
Oct. 15, 2017: Nebraska hired Washington State’s Bill Moos to replace Shawn Eichorst as athletic director. Moos said during his introductory press conference that he doesn’t believe in firing coaches midseason but didn’t mince words about the state of the program. “Nebraska for years has been the hunted. We’re not right now.”
Nov. 24, 2017: Mike Riley finished his third and final season at Nebraska with a 56-14 loss to Iowa. That concluded a 4-8 season — Nebraska's worst in 56 years — and was the third straight game the Huskers surrendered 50 or more points.
Nov. 25, 2017: Nebraska fired Mike Riley after three seasons as the Husker coach. He ended his tenure with a 19-19 record, the worst winning percentage by a Nebraska coach since 1961.