Banker on Riley's move to Nebraska: 'It was time'

New Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker got the call a few days before Mike Riley made the biggest, most surprising career switch imaginable. 

Here was Riley, more than a decade in at Oregon State, calling Banker with a question. 

"'You're going to think this is crazy,' Banker recalled Riley telling him. 'I don't know how to tell you this, but what do you think about going to Nebraska?' 

They spoke, then Banker left to go recruiting. Riley's primary assistant — Hilary O'Bryan, now at NU — told Banker that Riley wouldn't be accompanying him on the recruiting trip. 

"She paused and she said 'He's in Lincoln,'" Banker remembered.

Banker then was boarding a plane at 8:30 a.m. to go to Hawaii, so he shut his phone off. Halfway through that flight, Banker turned his phone back on. Riley had called just before takeoff. By the time Banker landed, Riley had taken the job at Nebraska. 

"I had probably 90 emails and text messages," Banker said. He talked to Riley later that day. He didn't fly back from Hawaii immediately because "I didn't want to stick Oregon State with another $700 bill." 

So why did Riley leave Oregon State? 

"It was time," Banker said. "It was time." 

Banker paused and chuckled. 

"I'll say it," he said. "I'll say it. It stalled out. We played for Rose Bowl two years in a row. One year we flat-out screwed it up and the next year we got beat in a very, very close game. And instead of the university seizing the opportunity going forward, our success was used to help out the other programs. Which they needed to do, places that had limited budgets and resources. That was a decision that was made." 

Banker said Oregon State was "falling behind in the arms race." 

"There aren't any excuses," he said. "Winning and losing still comes down to us doing our job in recruiting and doing a good job in our coaching, but change is good. Change is good." 

Did Riley and his staff feel under-appreciated at Oregon State? 

"Nah," Banker said. "No. No. No time for that, right?" 

Banker said he didn't have to take long to decide to follow Riley. He's been with Riley in one capacity or another since 1997. 

"He includes everybody," Banker said. "Your family. Your players. He wants everybody to buy in. He lets you do your job. And you put in more time and more effort because of the fact that you just want to do your level-best for the guy because he entrusts you to do that. That's a unique situation."

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