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B1G 2016 // The Nebraska Potluck continues with a perfectly good coaching question

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Go get you some Dorothy Lynch dressing like I got this picture at

Welcome to Day 2 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers Potluck. Today it's all about the always pleasant Mike Riley. In honor of him, and his coaches, I give you a wonderful Nebraska staple - Dorothy Lynch. It's a salad dressing that is perfectly good, probably a bit like any other dressing, and about as good ol' Nebraska as it gets. Not-so-coincidentally, Mike Riley is perfectly good, probably a bit like any other good coach, and about as good ol' Nebraska as it's going to get. So let's talk about that...

Okay, I guess it is time to talk about the Mike Riley experience. Nice guy. Solid enough recruiter so far. Sketchy gameday coach. Oh, and he is a really nice guy. In your minds, do you think Riley was an upgrade as HC? Do you think his coordinators are an upgrade? Is it possible that Pelini and his Merry Band of Angry People were better?

C4B: For the on field product, the Riley group of coaches are almost certainly a downgrade from Pelini’s staff. However, if you prefer your head coach and administration getting along, a severe upgrade has occurred.

Townie: I’m not a fan of the coaching carousel. As I’ve said in these pages before, it takes a lot of good things to happen for your team to succeed. Putting together consistent 9-win seasons is pretty fucking good. The key to keeping fans excited is building on those wins to periodically challenge for the division championship and the natty. I guess Bo couldn’t do that? So you canned him. I’m not convinced Riley can even do that at Nebraska, so we’ll see. One year isn’t enough time for me to form an opinion.

AlNamiasIV: Riley was the wrong choice for a coach; however, getting rid of Pelini was the right choice. I’m actually surprised Pelini did as well as he did. Coaches like him--football coaches that seem to be fueled by emotion--rarely have any sort of sustained success. Slow and steady tends to win the race in football (we’ll see what happens in Ann Arbor). As for Riley, I didn’t get his hiring at the time, and I still don’t. If Nebraska wants sustained excellence, there was nothing in Riley’s resume that said he could provide that. I get Riley as an antidote to the poison that was Pelini, but if Riley is nothing but a bridge then it would have been better to have taken a chance on a nice-guy up-and-comer than a nice-guy proven mediocre. No, I don’t think Pelini et al were better when looking at the whole picture. But Riley is the wrong guy for this job.

LPW: Given it’s been only 1 year, on the field it’s a downgrade. As for recruiting, give it time and let’s see what happens.

Stew:  I think it’s about the same, averaged out.  However, the way you get there is likely to be quite a bit different.  Pelini, generally, beat the teams he should have, and lost the games he should have.  Last year, Riley lost to Purdue and IL, but also beat MSU.  I think this is emblematic of what you can expect on a whole.  Higher ceiling, lower floor.

WSR: There’s nothing more B1G than taking a page out of Minnesota’s playbook.  Yeah, I get the reasons for firing PeLLLLini. It made sense.  But then you go and hire somebody that should be so far below you that your secretary would laugh at his agent for calling.  At least he’s nice, and that’s going to count for something when he’s awaiting judgement after he dies if there’s a higher power.

GF3: There’s more to a program to what happens between kickoff and the final gun. That may sound silly, given how much we judge programs by wins and losses alone, but it’s true. PeLLLLini wasn’t just a mediocre gameday coach. He was a furious, spittle-spewing cancer on the program. Who also managed to lose four games with astonishing consistency. You’ve gone from a mediocre coach who’s an asshole to a mediocre coach. At least the latter can put the program back on good footing with fans and boosters and clear the way for a better coach to build something.

AK: No, I don't, but I never had Bo Pelini calling me chickenshit either. Big picture, I don't know if Riley's recruiting can ever be good enough to overtake OSU, MSU, and Michigan if his staff isn't also developing those players, which is an unclear prospect at this point.

AY: Riley was an upgrade over Pelini because you can't have the head coach of a major program pissing off the media and fans unless he wins ALL the games. And Pelini, as we know, was "only" good for nine wins a year. That's fine if you're a good boy. But bad boys have to win more than that to stick around. So far, Riley looks like he has the offense moving in the right direction, but Pelini and the angry people had better defensive teams. With some stronger recruiting on that side of the field, Riley can put his team in the mix for the West Division crown every year.

Jesse: I'm answering my own questions here, so I will be brief. I think that Mike Riley has potential still to be as good as Pelini, but there will be as many valleys as peaks with him and his team. Mark Banker's quarters defense is predicated on incredibly great safety and CB play. We didn't get that last year. Danny Langsdorf's offensive schemes are predicated on the idea that the QB can choose the right part of a packaged play and not panic. That didn't work out so well.

So, things were not great last year, but I still have some optimism with this staff. They hustle on the recruiting trail. They seem to be trying to reinvent themselves constantly, and they communicate with each other and with the fanbase. None of that guarantees success, but it is providing a foundation. Will that mean they win a championship? Who knows... But I will enjoy watching them this year. It should be fascinating to see if they improve or if they validate what many of my colleagues have said above: Mike Riley is just not the right coach. Only time will tell.