Mike & Mike: Bellotti Vs. Riley, Round 2

Paul FulwilerCorrespondent INovember 7, 2008

In response to several posts, here and elsewhere, let's not fool ourselves about what Oregon football was before Mike Bellotti arrived either.

As many can recall, the Ducks hadn't been bowling themselves since the 1963 Sun Bowl when Coach Bellotti came in as Offensive Coordinator in 1989 (6 bowls total in their history).  Since his arrival, 15 bowls (about to be 16)... in just 20 seasons.  Pretty remarkable really.

The problem with many of the arguments for Mike Riley (or rather against Bellotti) is the need to "take away" certain things.  But for the fun of it, take a look at the previous four years prior to Bellotti taking over as head coach, even with the 1994 Rose Bowl season, and the Ducks were 23-24.

What did Riley inherit upon his return?  A 31-17 program with Fiesta Bowl experience.  So, we take away Riley's first two years, we recognize that he actually inherited a program in better shape and we'll say that his next five years (2003-2007) were at least comparable to Bellotti's first five years (1995-1999), despite Bellotti reaching a Cotton Bowl and going 6-2 in the Pac-10 twice—at least their overall records were similar, 39-20 for Bellotti and 39-24 for Riley. 

Now, the big question is: What is Riley going to do in years six and seven?  We know what Bellotti did: two Pac-10 titles, 21-3 record, Holiday Bowl and Fiesta Bowl wins, a Heisman finalist, countless NFL draftees and countless facility improvements (as well as uni combos) and the foundation for a top tier program for many years to come.