OPINION: It's Way Too Early To Fire Mike Riley
by Ryan Nanni
You'll get no argument from me that the first eight games of the Mike Riley Era in Lincoln have been a major disappointment. 3-5 is the worst start to a Nebraska season since 1961 - the year before Bob Devaney was hired. Nor does it help that three of those losses took place in Memorial Stadium. But consider the fact that every one of Nebraska's losses have come by five points or less.
Consider further that in four of those losses, the winning team scored the go-ahead points in overtime or with less than 11 seconds to go in the game. This team's closer than the record suggests. They're 41st in the F/+ rankings, above Northwestern, Penn State, and Illinois, and if they can upset Iowa or Michigan State, a bowl game is still within reach.
But the real reason Nebraska should stay the course? You can't fire a dude one year in. It's a terrible look, reserved only for the most dire circumstances, like the time Ellis Johnson turned a Southern Miss team that had gone 12-2 into an 0-12 disaster that lost games by an average of 18 points. Whether or not Mike Riley is the answer for Nebraska can't be known, and if he only gets one year to prove himself, you make it that much harder to convince quality candidates to take on this job. Some of this year is bad luck, and some of it's bad coaching. Both of those can change without pulling the rug out from Mike Riley this early.
And even if you think Riley's a definitive flop, is this the year you want to be in the market for a new head coach? USC, Miami, Minnesota, UCF, Illinois, Maryland, and South Carolina are already in this hunt, and it wouldn't be a shock if another couple of Power 5 schools join them. Discretion is the better part of valor, Nebraska. Keep Mike Riley on your arm and sit this dance out for now.
OPINION: This Man With An Ammunition-Stocked Van Is Perfect For Nebraska
by Spencer Hall
You can't afford to wait around in college football or in life. Opportunity is not just fast. It's like, Tommie Frazier 1996 Fiesta Bowl fast, streaking away with you clinging to its back like so many hapless Florida Gator defenders. It runs through your fingers like Eric Crouch juking and feinting his way through the entire Mizzou defense on a single play.
These are your last two happy memories, Nebraska fans. 2015 hasn't given you anything to add to the library, either, and likely won't given your remaining schedule. Narrow losses in the final stages of the game, a disgruntled fanbase, and the bitter dark curtain of winter approaching with every second. Nebraska, you're either a Turgenev novel or an episode of Fargo. Both end with a body hitting the floor.
That might be Mike Riley, since all nice guys in prairie noir meet brutal ends. That's why you need something genuinely explosive to shake things up, a man who understands that the only solutions that ever made a lick of sense in this life involve fire, guns, or flight from the authorities. You need a renegade soul who believes in not only being prepared for the apocalypse, but possibly leaving that apocalypse to burn in a field for a while until someone else can clean it up.
You need This Man With An Ammunition-Stocked Van to take over the Nebraska football program. He will bring explosiveness to the Nebraska brand, explosiveness missing since the days of your linebackers coach hiding a pistol possibly involved in a crime the head coach's office safe. Unlike Mike Riley, he has a proven track record of drawing a crowd and the demonstrated ability to light a fire under people. (Himself, but still.) Man With An Ammunition-Stocked Van got national news coverage all by himself; just imagine what he would do with the power of the Nebraska brand behind him.
He's a problem-solver, even if he's the one who made the problem. He's a leader of men, even if he's leading them into the woods in pursuit of him after committing what is undoubtedly some kind of public endangerment crime. He's the Senatorial figure Nebraska fans have been missing ever since Dr. Tom disappeared-- the 19th century kind of Senator who couldn't read, believed shadows caused bursitis if you stepped across them, and beat his servants mercilessly while slowly dying of mercury poisoning.
He's not the man you want. But Nebraska, oh, he is the man you need.*
*There is a 74% chance this man is Bo Pelini, but that'd be okay, he didn't return the keys and still knows where all the football stuff is, anyway.**
**There is an 8% chance this man is Carl Pelini. We're really sorry if that's the case.