Football.com - everything football

Mike Riley: Mr. Consistent

By



Mike Riley is arguably the face of Corvallis. But it's not because of title games and top-tier recruits. It's something else. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.
Mike Riley is arguably the face of Corvallis. But it's not because of title games and top-tier recruits. It's something else. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.

When Mike Riley returned to coach Oregon State in 2003 after a brief stint in the NFL, something good came with him. Aside from a couple rough years, there’s one way to describe the Beavers in his tenure: consistent.

For perspective, the Beavers have been to seven bowls in 10 years. In two of those 10, they were one victory from a Rose Bowl berth. Their bowl game invite never got lower than the Las Vegas bowl (twice).

Riley’s teams are also known for something else: starting slow, finishing strong. That’s what every good coach preaches, right?

Make mistakes, move on, get better, finish strong.

It’s standard practice in the coaching world. Riley is the golden standard.

Since 2004, in the last six games of each season — not including bowls — Riley has a record of 33-21 overall. In the first six, he’s 29-26. Not crazy, but get this: six of those seasons ended with winning records. Of those six, Riley’s teams went 5-1 in their last six games three times. Twice they went 4-2, and once they went 3-3.

Mike “Mariano” Rivera: Always be closing!

Consistency, that’s the key with the Beavers. Oregon State has never been, and will never be a program that brings in five-star recruits. The in-state pool is not strong enough, and the money isn’t there. The new contract with Nike will help, but it pales in comparison to what the University of Oregon has with its boosters down the road. Luck of the draw, maybe.

The Oregons, Alabamas and LSUs can afford to go all-out every season — national championship or bust. The Beavers, well, that’s something missing off their resume. But at some point, when do you concede to the fact that not every year has BCS bowl potential? When is it OK to just get to a bowl game?

There are two philosophies out there: all or nothing or a lot of a good thing.

Riley is the latter.