Oregon State got off to a brutal start in 2017. The start was so brutal that Gary Andersen is out as head coach, less than three years after leaving Wisconsin. Andersen agreed to waive the four years remaining on his contract, which would have paid him more than $12 million, to facilitate the move.
OSU isn’t a great job. It has all the challenges of coaching Oregon without the caché and branding that make it desirable. That will be why Chip Kelly won’t be a serious candidate and why Oregon State is probably not in the mix for another Power 5 coach. Here are some more reasonable names.
Mike Riley [Nebraska]
Riley has left Oregon State and come back before. He left after the 1998 season to take the San Diego Chargers job. He returned to Oregon State in 2003 for his second 12-year stint where he went to eight bowl games and finished in the Top 25 four times. Things are going south for Riley quickly in Nebraska. In year three, he has lost to a MAC team, lost by three touchdowns to Wisconsin, and could face an even uglier defeat at home vs. Ohio State next week. Nebraska already fired the AD who hired him. Slipping back to Oregon State may be the best move for all involved.
Ken Niumatalolo [Navy]
Remember what we said about it not being easy to win at service academies? Niumatalolo is 25-7 at Navy over the past three seasons, 17-2 in conference since joining the AAC. Oregon State would have to commit to become Georgia Tech Northwest, running the option in a major conference. But what do the Beavers have to lose at this point?
Troy Calhoun [Air Force]
It’s not easy to win at service academies. Troy Calhoun has done so. He’s taken Air Force to nine bowl games in 10 seasons. He has won 10 games during two of the past three years. An NFL offensive coordinator before taking the job, he should be more versatile with the offense than Niumatalolo. He would be an experienced hand to rebuild the program who isn’t Mike Riley.
Greg Schiano [Ohio State DC]
Schiano flamed out in the NFL. But his track record in college is rock solid. He built Rutgers from the ground up into an AP final Top 15 team, which has to be attractive for Oregon State. Per Urban Meyer, he turned down two “significant” head coaching jobs last season to stay on as defensive coordinator at Ohio State. His name still isn’t as sexy as it should be, which may work in Oregon State’s favor?
Jonathan Smith [Washington OC]
Smith was a four-year starter at quarterback for Oregon State. He led the 2000 team that finished 11-1, won the Fiesta Bowl, and finished ranked No. 4 overall. He also started his coaching career with the Beavers as a grad assistant. Smith has administered potent offense the past two seasons with the Huskies and is credited for Jake Browning’s development.
Beau Baldwin [California OC]
Baldwin won an FCS title, five conference titles, and made six FCS playoff appearances at Eastern Washington. His offense scared the heck out of a few FBS teams. Baldwin has not had a great start at Cal. His Cal offense managed just 93 yards on 52 plays against Washington in the Bears’ last game. But, it’s hard to quibble with his head coaching record at a lower level.
Alex Grinch [Washington State DC]
Grinch has overhauled Washington State’s defense over the past three years. It is paying dividends for Mike Leach on the field. The Cougars are 17-5 in the Pac 12 over that stretch with that side of the ball improving every season. Solid surname for making puns as well.