Tthe Pac-10 all conference awards were announced today. And, not all that surprisingly, Mike Riley was named Pac-10 coach of the year.
This is wrong in my opinion, for many reasons, but the #1 reason is the Civil War. The sheer magnitude of this game should have disqualified him for this honor.
This was the most important game in Mike Riley's career. It was at home. It was a game in which OSU was favored.
But in this game, the OSU defense gave up 694 yards. Let that sink in: 694 yards. It was one of the worst defensive performances in the history of the OSU program, even in their worst years. It was the most yards ever gained by an Oregon team. It was the most points ever given up by an OSU team. OSU came out lifeless, and did not play like they wanted the game.
This performance was turned in during the most important game of the decade for OSU. As far as coaching goes, there is no defending this. Good coaches make their teams competitive on the biggest stages. Yet, in 2 of the 3 biggest games this season, OSU was thoroughly dominated. Yes, they had a great win over USC. But they were also run off the field in their two other big games.
Now, Mike Riley did a very good job this year. OSU had few "returning starters," though as many Beaver fans would remind us, many coming back had ample experience.
But, despite the successes that Mike Riley had this season, his failures were of pretty epic proportions. And, especially in the Civil War, coaching can take a good share of the blame. The number one most important job of the coach is motivation, and OSU did not come out on fire. While Oregon came out determined and confident, OSU did not have that same energy or attitude. On top of this, the OSU defenders failed to play disciplined on defense, while the coaching staff seemed to make absolutely no adjustments on defense, especially after half time.
While I will be the first to admit the Mike Riley is a very good football coach, the magnitude of these failures should disqualify him from this honor.
Who should have won the Pac-10 Coach of the year? I would say Mike Bellotti or Pete Carroll. While USC "underachieved" by having one loss, they also fielded one of the best defenses under Carroll, and is an example of the defensive coaching abilities. Oregon overcame early adversity and improved the entire season. The coaching staff brought up the offensive players, while after the USC debacle, the coaching staff adjusted on the defensive side of the ball, which greatly improved the defense from the Boise State and USC losses. On top of this, niether coach has multiple black marks to the degree that Riley does.
As I said, Mike Riley is a very good coach, and he'll be in the running for many more coach of the year honors, but he did not deserve it this year.