Welcome back to another edition of the HuskerExtra Mailbag. Steven M. Sipple answered a bunch of questions yesterday (and then wrote at length about defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's media availability), and I'm back for more questions today.
So, let's get to them.
Everyone is talking about hiring a new head coach. What if Bill Moos pulls a fast one and offers to keep Mike Riley another year? What will be the reception by fans and perception by outsiders?— Jeremy J. Anderson🎙 (@Jeremy_J_KCSR) November 8, 2017
Yeah, Jeremy, it's a good question.
With all of the talk out there about coaching change this, coaching change that, it's important to remember that as of now, nothing's changed and athletic director Bill Moos is still evaluating the program.
I think the outside perception would be one of surprise, just because there seems to be a sense that change is inevitable. I think the national reaction would be more understanding than the reaction among Husker fans, though. Granted, Twitter and Facebook comments are not necessarily a good sample to draw from, but there does seem to be widespread dissatisfaction with the current situation (not surprising, of course, given the 4-5 mark).
Could Moos elect to keep Riley another year? He could. If if that happened -- and understanding fully that evaluating the program takes time -- one of the questions would be whether publicizing support past the season for Riley and staff early on would have helped on the recruiting trail or just generally speaking.
It doesn't seem likely -- Sipple wrote Saturday that the end of Riley's tenure feels inevitable -- but right now we seem to be in a holding pattern.
How much does nebraska pay a new coach? Of course if/when Riley is let go?— zachary Simonds (@zsimonds2) November 8, 2017
Let's look at some numbers from the USA Today coaching salary database. The Big Ten has five head coaches in the top 16 -- Michigan's Jim Harbaugh No. 3, Ohio State's Urban Meyer No. 4, Penn State's James Franklin No. 12, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz No. 13 and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio No. 16. Those numbers range from $7 million to $4.3.
Mike Riley this season is making $2.9, which is No. 41 in the nation and No. 11 in the Big Ten.
Here's another thing to consider: Look at some of the programs where coaches are either said to be on the hot seat or already out. Texas A&M (No. 10), Florida (No. 15), Arkansas (No. 17), Tennessee (No. 20) and UCLA (No. 25) are all big-money jobs. If Nebraska makes a change, there's going to be stiff competition from schools that are willing to dig pretty deep into the wallet.
NU paid top dollar -- $1 million a year (plus up to $525k in incentives) -- for an athletic director. The guess here is that the school would continue that approach if needed.
Is it possible to interview Billy anymore? Would be interesting to follow up on February LJS article when he said talent was not an issue.— ❤️ over Hype (@CoryHonold) November 8, 2017
Sip got at this a little bit in his mailbag yesterday.
Billy Devaney is Mike Riley's executive director of player personnel and special assistant to the head coach and he prefers to stay behind the scenes.
Given Diaco's comments yesterday about about the tackling system in place before he arrived -- and because of what you're asking, Cory -- I think we'll hear from him down the stretch of the regular season. At least, I think there's interest from fans and the public in hearing from him.
Did Wisconsin have this kind of drama?— Fillup J Fries (@NebraskaPhil) November 8, 2017
Ha! A good question to end on, Phil.
Every place has it's particular brand of drama, I think.
I don't know about now at Wisconsin. It seems to be pretty stable right now, though I'm sure there's been dust-ups that I don't know about.
Everyone has their turn, though. When I was covering the team for the Daily Cardinal in college, Bret Bielema left for Arkansas. That rattled cages pretty good. And then it was amplified even more when Gary Andersen left for Oregon State after just two seasons. Each in their own right, I think, left people there wondering where UW really stood in the football pecking order. That, as Husker fans know, can be a bit of an existential crisis for a fan base.
They're rolling along right now, but that was a turbulent period that didn't end until pretty recently. Bottom line: Pretty much every college program goes through some period of concern. Some last longer than others. Every place has smaller dramas play out, too. Some just have more than others.