Oregon State's Mike Riley Should Be Notre Dame's Coach-In-Waiting

Paul FulwilerCorrespondent INovember 10, 2009

CORVALLIS, OR - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers looks on from the sidelines in the first quarter of the game against the Stanford Cardinals at Reser Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

It's only a matter of time, it seems, until Notre Dame pulls the plug on the Charlie Weis experiment.  After two home losses to Navy in the past three seasons it appears a foregone conclusion.

The real question is who will be tabbed to replace him.  And the answer is Oregon State's Mike Riley .

Notre Dame can go three different ways with its next hire (we won't even consider the Urban Meyer option. Sorry Irish fans, it's just not going to happen): 1) an NFL coach or assistant, 2) a young up-and-coming college coach or coordinator, or 3) an experienced college head coach.


History has shown them that option No. 1 may be out of the question, unless of course Jon Gruden is truly interested.  The former Tampa Bay head man (and winner of Super Bowl XXXVII), as well as Clay High School alum (in South Bend), is currently sitting in the Monday Night Football booth and should have several suitors this offseason.

Notre Dame would be crazy to pass up on hiring him and should make a generous offer...soon.

Chances: Possible (5-1)


Will former Irish assistants Charlie Strong and Steve Addazio be given a shot?  Although certainly qualified, it's doubtful that Notre Dame will reach for either Florida coordinator to right their ship.  They could, however, be in line for these relatively young head coaches:

1) Chris Petersen , 45, Boise St.: will be landing a big gig somewhere soon.  All he does is win (44-4) and has a few big wins under his belt already: Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and Oregon each of the past two seasons.

Chances: Possible (5-1)

2) Kyle Whittingham , 49, Utah: has only been the head man since 2005 (following the departure of Urban Meyer), but has fared quite well with a 45-15 record, including 4-0 in bowls and an unblemished 13-0 campaign in 2008.

Chances: Decent shot (6-1)  

3) Brian Kelly , 48, Cincinnati: putting together another successful campaign and will also have his pick of jobs should he choose to move on.

Chances: Somewhat likely (8-1)


Landing Gruden would be a coup, and could put the Irish right back on the national scene.  Going for the sexy hire of a BCS buster like Petersen or Whittingham might also seem intriguing.

Nevertheless, what Notre Dame should do, and in all likelihood will do, is go after an established head coach with a proven track record of success in both recruiting and winning.

1) Kirk Ferentz , 54, Iowa: used to be everyone's top pick, faded a bit in recent years, but now with his Hawkeyes sitting at 9-1 he'll have the attention of several potential suitors.

Chances: Maybe (7-1)

2) Jim Grobe , 57, Wake Forest: has made a winner out of one of the worst programs in NCAA history, including an Orange Bowl appearance (and 11-3 mark) in 2006.

Chances: Maybe (7-1)

3) Mike Bellotti, 58, Oregon (retired): what's that?  He's retired.  Sure, but he was also on their very short list in recent years and has the proven track record they should be seeking.

Chances: Unlikely (25-1)

Which leads us to one man.  The current head coach at Oregon State, former Alabama player, former USC assistant, and former San Diego Chargers head coach Mike Riley.

He has the experience they need, both in the college and the NFL (as well as the CFL).  He's been recruiting California for years (both with USC and OSU) and has had success in other regions as well, nabbing the Rodgers brothers out of Texas.

He wins (63-45).  He wins bowl games (5-0).  And most importantly for Notre Dame fans, he beats USC, 33-31 in 2006 and 27-21 in 2008.

Notre Dame also has a little bit of history in attempting to lure coaches out of the state of Oregon: see Mike Bellotti above, as well as Oregon's basketball coach Ernie Kent and OSU's baseball coach, Pat Casey.  While they weren't successful in those attempts, might they be successful in luring Riley this December?

Chances: Likely (3-1)