LINCOLN — A former Nebraska athletic director offered effusive praise Thursday for the Huskers’ new football coaching hire, Mike Riley.
“I think Nebraska stole one," former Oregon, Nebraska and Texas A&M A.D. Bill Byrne said in a phone interview.
“If I were still in the business, he would have been on my short list. I think he’s terrific."
Byrne is retired in Texas, but remains active in watching the NCAA scene and stays tuned in to current football affairs through his son, Greg, the athletic director at Arizona. Bryne said he first met Riley through Greg when Greg worked as an associate A.D. at Oregon State.
“I have always admired Mike," Bill Byrne said. “They hired him twice at Oregon State, and that says something.
“I think he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. You guys will just love working with him."
Riley’s name may not ring many bells of recognition in the Midlands, but coaches across the country are well aware of the 61-year-old Idaho native’s prowess.
In an ESPN poll in September, with 97 of 128 FBS coaches responding, Riley was voted the No. 2 underrated coach nationally behind David Cutcliffe of Duke. In voting among Power 5 coaches only, Riley tied for first with Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.
“I think he has done more with less at Oregon State than almost any coach I know," Byrne said. “Mike competed against a lot of very, very wealthy programs, yet he always managed to be very competitive."
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Video: Oregon State play-by-play announced Mike Parker discusses the Riley hire:
Video: Corvallis Oregon Gazette-Times sports editor Steve Gress discusses the Riley hire:
Video: Meet Nebraska hire Mike Riley: