Moos searching for new coach after firing Riley

Nov. 25, 2017, 4:50 a.m. ·

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Bill Moos speaks to reporters Saturday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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University of Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos says he’s looking for someone with great morals and a winning style, after firing head football coach Mike Riley.

Moos announced he was firing Riley Saturday morning, a day after the Cornhuskers lost 56-14 to Iowa, finishing their season with four wins and eight losses. In a written statement, Moos praised Riley’s professionalism and energy but said they had not translated to success on the field.

In a Saturday afternoon news conference, Moos said he had told Riley around 9 a.m. he was being relieved of his duties. “It was no surprise to me that he took that very, very well,” Moos said, describing Riley as an “incredibly wonderful human being and a very, very good football coach.”

Mike Riley (Photo by NET Sports)

Speaking to reporters later, Riley said he was thankful for his three years at Nebraska, where he compiled a 19-19 won/loss record. “I learned that this is a special place,” Riley said. “You know, I was kind of told that. And I think that the opportunity to be here, it’s like that old song I think, I could have missed the pain but I would have had to miss the dance, and I loved it.”

Moos has been athletic director during the last five games of the season, after he replaced Shawn Eichorst, who was fired. He said he began to think about the need to make a coaching change after Nebraska lost to Minnesota, part of the four-game losing streak that ended the season.

“I told the players today nobody wants to go 4-8,” Moos said. “I want to get this program to where we’re disappointed if we go 8-4.”

Moos was asked what kind of style he was looking for in the next coach. “A winning style,” he replied.

“People say you can’t throw the ball in the Big 10. I don’t agree with that,” Moos said. “I for one like a balanced attack. But I’m not the coach. I think you do need to run the ball. More importantly, I think you need to stop the run…I know this is an old cliché, but offenses fill the stadium. Defenses win championships.”

And when asked what qualifications he was looking for, Moos replied “The right fit first of all has to have somebody with tremendous morals. A good teacher, a good mentor, someone who is competitive and preferably has head coaching experience in major college football.”

Moos said he is considering about six possible candidates, including former NU quarterback Scott Frost, a favorite among many fans. “Scott is someone that I am considering,” Moos said. “But I’m being very sensitive the fact that he’s still coaching a team, and he’s having a heck of a run.”

Frost is currently coaching at the University of Central Florida, headed for the American Athletic Conference championship game. Moos avoided saying whether he had met Frost when UCF played in Philadelphia and Nebraska played at Penn State a week ago.

Moos also said he had people talk to former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who has been hired by UCLA, and praised other coaches, including Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M, Dan Mullen of Mississippi State, and Chris Peterson of Washington.

Moos said a new coach would not necessarily be selected before this year’s new, early signing period for players. “The early signing period is a factor, but not to the degree that we make a bad decision,” Moos said. “So if we bump up against that early signing period and we aren’t there yet, the sky isn’t falling. It’s more important that this is a hire that provides stability and a true identity to our football program.”

That early signing period runs December 20 through the 22nd. Moos said he intends to announce a new coach as soon as possible.