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Which 5-Star Recruit Is Top Priority for New Florida HC Jim McElwain?

Jim McElwain, newly hired head coach of the Florida Gators, has his work cut out for him in his attempt to turn around the Gator program. Florida has many needs, but none more pressing than at offensive line. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder was joined by GatorCountry.com beat writer Nick de la Torre to get a better feel for Florida's recruiting situation. 

What is Florida's biggest need?

Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State's Mario Edwards, Jr. First Showed Glimpse of Talent vs. GT

Mario Edwards, Jr. arrived on campus before the 2012 season overweight. The nation's top defensive end prospect had eaten his way out of potential playing time and it appeared a possibility that he would redshirt.

And then All-American Brandon Jenkins was lost for the season in Week 1 with a foot injury. While trying to slim down, Edwards would see some playing time as a reserve. But then another defensive end, Tank Carradine, suffered a torn ACL in the final regular-season game.

Edwards had his chance to not just play but start in the ACC championship game against Georgia Tech.

"That was my coming out game," Edwards said. "For me to do it in college was definitely big. I came in overweight, and for me to get my weight down and then go out and have a good game was definitely a confidence boost for me."

Edwards had seven tackles that day, helping limit Georgia Tech's triple-option offense to 183 yards on 52 carries. FSU needed a run-stopping defensive end, a player who would "set the edge" and not let any Yellow Jackets run wide and find green grass.

He did just that in his first start. It was something he had done on Friday nights but never in college.

"He played one heck of a football game for us," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You saw the potential and what he could be. To go out and perform like he did, in that game, was huge. And I think it really kicked his career off."

Now a redshirt junior, Edwards has developed into an All-ACC defensive lineman. He has 41 tackles and 11 tackles for loss going into Saturday's ACC title game against Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense is tricky, featuring far too many potential ball carriers for a defensive player to watch in the moments after a snap.

"You have four people in the backfield that can touch the ball at any given time and it's all tricks," Edwards said. "There are so many things you can do. If you're not assignment-sound or reading your keys, it will mess you up."

Current Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas didn't play in the 2012 game against FSU. But Thomas has run for 861 yards and five touchdowns this season, leading the Yellow Jackets in rushing when he's not handing the ball off.

"He's shifty," Edwards said. "He's a real fast quarterback. He does good with faking it and then pitching it. You will guess that he's doing something and he'll make you pay for it."

Bob Ferrante is the lead FSU writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. Stats courtesy of seminoles.com, ramblinwreck.com or FSU game notes.

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Recruiting Awards for the Top 2015 Defensive Tackle Recruits

The 2015 class of defensive tackles is deep and talented. Distinguishing which player is the absolute best is a tough task with each recruit possessing specific skills sets needed to excel at the college level.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the skills of all the top defensive tackles of the 2015 class.

Which defensive tackle listed will make the most impact at the next level?

Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Biggest Surprises of the 2014 College Football Season

Anyone who says they predicted even a few of the craziest things that have happened during the 2014 college football season is 1) a major fan of chaos and 2) probably lying.

The long offseason leaves plenty of time to guess what's going to happen during the fall, but while some things are easy to project—Nebraska will win nine games, Navy and Georgia Tech will run for a bunch of yards and at least one team ranked high in the preseason will fall way short of expectations—there will always be far more occurrences during the season that come as huge shockers.

The 2014 season was no different, as on a weekly basis something happened that had us all saying variations of "wow!" But looking at it from an overall perspective, here are the 10 biggest surprises of this season, ranked based on how unexpected they were either before the season or as the campaign progressed.

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5-Star CeCe Jefferson and Other Florida Recruits React to Jim McElwain Hire

Florida entered a new era Thursday when it finalized an agreement with former Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain. Despite success in Fort Collins, it's his former employer who recruits are most familiar with at first glance.

"He's coached under [Nick] Saban, so he has the experience," 5-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson told Bleacher Report.

The coveted Sunshine State standout is one of several prospects who've surveyed a tenuous situation in Gainesville during the past year. With Will Muschamp's star dimming as the 2014 season progressed, plenty of pledges jumped off the bandwagon while others held back commitments to see how things played out.

“When recruits my age were growing up, we saw that team dominate," Gators tight end target Daniel Imatorbhebhe said. "It was Tim Tebow running over people, Percy Harvin making big plays and just a ton of success. That’s not really how guys see the team anymore, and it's probably held them back from picking up some big-time players.”

So, is McElwain the man who can return Florida to those dominant days?

“I honestly don’t know much about Coach McElwain. I’m not even really sure what he looks like," Imatorbhebhe admitted. "Now that his hire is official, I’m going to start looking into it."

Star Tampa receiver commit Auden Tate was a bit more blunt.

“I’ve never heard of him," he told Luke Stampini of 247Sports (subscription required).

McElwain is a relative mystery man to most Florida prospects. SEC squads don't often cross paths with Mountain West Conference members on the recruiting trail.

Still, everyone respects victories, and those are exactly what he racked up at Colorado State. McElwain collected 18 wins during the past two seasons with a program that managed just 16 in the four years that preceded his arrival.

“I’ve heard that [Florida athletic director] Jeremy Foley doesn’t settle for anything but the best," Imatorbhebhe said. "If that’s the guy they wanted all along, then that means it was probably for a very good reason."

Foley explained the characteristics that drew him to McElwain on the team website.

"He has recruited the South and the state of Florida and has spent time coaching at the highest level in the NFL [with Oakland]," he said. “He has an engaging personality and is someone who can connect with a variety of audiences, and he operates with a high level of integrity."

McElwain's resume includes a four-year stay at Alabama, where he served as offensive coordinator during two national championship runs. Running back Mark Ingram earned the 2009 Heisman Trophy as a centerpiece in his attack, while Trent Richardson emerged as a finalist for the award two years later.

Both became first-round NFL draft selections—a rare feat for today's top college rushers.

Early benefit of the doubt is easier when your track record includes successful work with a legend like Saban, as Jefferson alluded. Recruits aware of his background appear impressed.

If you’ve done your research on him, he’s a great hire," Florida offensive lineman commit Tyler Jordantold Andrew Spivey of GatorCountry.com. "He’s a good offensive mind who has coached at the highest level before.”

Imatorbhebhe believes his accomplishments as an assistant command respect.

"He had a lot of success at Alabama and helped Saban win championships," he said. "That's pretty strong, and it's definitely a good sign for the Gators."

McElwain must elevate the team's on-field performance to validate the hefty price Florida paid for his services, but first the focus shifts toward a 2015 recruiting class that has fallen apart.

The group rapidly eroded during Muschamp's final campaign and currently includes just nine pledges. It rates 61st nationally in 247Sports' composite class rankings, listed below the likes of Louisiana Tech and San Jose State.

McElwain has two months to turn things around and salvage a successful signing day. His sales pitch should center on an opportunity for recruits to return a proud program to prominence, so the next eight weeks will speak volumes about how high school stars view Florida's new leader.

"We'll see what he's bringing to the table," Jefferson said.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: How to Solve the Melvin Gordon Problem

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After watching film of Wisconsin in preparation of this weekend's Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State linebacker Curtis Grant was left with one question: "Are we playing the Green Bay Packers or are we playing Wisconsin?"

This isn't a "Could Kentucky beat an NBA team?" scenario, but Grant's confusion between his college opponent and its professional counterpart isn't unfounded.

Watching the Badgers run the ball, it's easy to mistake them for an NFL squad—between both their star running back and the players blocking for him.

With only conference championship weekend standing between now and the presentation of the Heisman Trophy, Bodog (h/t Odds Shark) lists just two players with odds to take home college football's most prestigious individual award.

One is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who's favored to take home the trophy with odds of 1-10.

The other? Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

The Badgers back's 5-1 Heisman odds are well-deserved, too, seeing as Gordon leads the nation with 2,260 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.

He also lays claim to the greatest single-game performance of any Heisman candidate, rushing for an NCAA record-breaking 408 yards and four touchdowns in Wisconsin's Nov. 15 win over Nebraska. That's the type of performance that the Buckeyes are dreading on Saturday, the type that keeps them up late at night longer than the unproven nature of first-time starting quarterback Cardale Jones does.

For Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, Gordon's evisceration of the Cornhuskers conjured up memories of former Michigan running back Tim Biakabutuka, who gashed the Buckeyes for 313 yards when Fickell was a defensive lineman at OSU in 1995.

"I've been a part of one that's not been like that and I don't ever want to relive it," Fickell said. "I know as a defense, there's never any more of a sick feeling than to see things like that."

If there is anything that can give the Buckeyes defense confidence heading into Saturday's showdown, it's that while Wisconsin has seemingly always been well known for its rushing attack, Ohio State has had recent success bottling up the Badgers.

Two years ago, it was Montee Ball headlining the Wisconsin run game as an 1,800-yard rusher who would go on to be a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos. While he rushed for 191 yards in the Buckeyes' 21-14 overtime victory, it took him 39 carries to do so and he only managed to find the end zone once.

Last season, Ohio State got its first look at Gordon as a feature back, holding the then-sophomore to 74 yards in a 31-24 Buckeyes' win.

In fact, OSU limited the Badgers to just 104 yards in the last meeting between the two teams—well below Wisconsin's per-game average of 283.8 rushing yards in 2013.

"You look at last year, you look at two years ago, they've had great running backs there," Fickell said of the Badgers. "We've had success against it. It comes down to playing team defense."

But while the Buckeyes have been able to do just that recently against the Badgers, the same can't be said about their last month of the season. Starting with its Nov. 8 statement win over Michigan State, Ohio State has endured a disturbing trend of allowing big games to the Big Ten's stable of talented running backs.

It was on that day that Spartans back Jeremy Langford gashed the Buckeyes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. A week later, Minnesota's David Cobb ran for 145 yards and three scores in OSU's 31-24 win.

Indiana's Tevin Coleman tallied 228 yards and three touchdowns against the Buckeyes, and even Michigan's Drake Johnson ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns before tearing his ACL in the third quarter of last weekend's rivalry game.

Altogether, Ohio State has surrendered an average of 199.5 rushing yards per game in its last four contests.

So how does a struggling rushing defense contain the nation's best running back? Do the Buckeyes even have a chance to do so? Fickell insists they do.

While Gordon has rushed for 100-plus yards in all but one of the Badgers' games this season, the Ohio State co-coordinator has seen teams limit the 6'1", 207-pounder's big-play ability. Fickell knows that he'll need to get a similar effort from the Buckeyes this Saturday in order to keep Ohio State in the conversation for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

"The teams that have done as good of a job as they can—even last week [Minnesota] didn't let him out," Fickell said. "If you can force him to stay inside, you know he's going to get some yards, but you've got 11 guys that have to help get his ass down."

Buckeyes cornerback Doran Grant stated OSU's game plan is even simpler than that.

"Pursue him and get him on the ground," the defensive back answered when asked how the Buckeyes can stop Gordon.

Isn't that easier said than done?

"That's what we have to do," he replied.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mike Riley to Nebraska Is the Most Shocking Silly Season Hire in Recent Memory

There were no planes tracked and no advance intel of back-room conversations. Just as the ink dried on Jim McElwain’s contract at Florida, Nebraska turned the football world on its head with one unanticipated social media bomb.

#Huskers, help us welcome Coach Mike Riley to the Big Red family! #GBR

— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) December 4, 2014

Mike Riley, the 61-year-old Oregon State lifer and In-N-Out Burger enthusiast, is Lincoln bound. Even if that news came provided with ample warning, it would still require some time to mull over. Given the unexpected nature of the announcement, however, it’s even more shocking that this is who the Cornhuskers’ quickly tabbed as Bo Pelini’s replacement.

Not since Jim Mora’s hire at UCLA has the "Silly Season" so aptly lived up to its name. Then again, the hiring and firing season in the college football world didn’t acquire its title by chance. It was crafted as a result of mind-blowing, perception-alerting moments just like this.

There is the question of fit and timing when it comes to this hire—items that will be addressed momentarily—but the release of this news is what jumps out most, at least initially.

At a time when no rumor (legitimate or manufactured) goes unexplored thanks to the influence of social media, Nebraska somehow controlled its own messaging. It then relayed this information through the outlet that has changed the process entirely—Twitter.

Although the book is still out on his ability to hire and fire coaches, we know now that athletics director Shawn Eichorst has a fabulous poker face. Not only did he keep a high-profile hire completely under wraps—beyond a brief blip on the radar with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema—but Eichorst managed to lure away a program fixture and a beloved personality from a post many, including myself, thought he would never leave.

Riley started his first head coaching stint at Oregon State back in 1997. After only two seasons, Riley left for the NFL, where he coached the San Diego Chargers. He also latched on with the New Orleans Saints as an assistant before returning to Corvallis in 2003. For the past 12 years—an eternity in the ever-changing coaching world—Riley has led Oregon State.

Even through ups and downs, it felt as though Riley would remain at the program for the foreseeable future. There was no reason for either side to make a change, not given the expectations and the obvious comfort on both sides. Results certainly could have been better—especially in recent years—although they also could have also been much worse.

That popular notion vanished on Thursday in one unexpected blast. In making this change, Riley will leave behind a program with nominal expectations for a school trying to rekindle its national power status.

It’s why Pelini, who was serviceable at worst, was relieved of his duties to the surprise of many. The apparent friction within university walls between the coach and the administration (and the fans, for that matter) played a significant role in this decision, as well. The person tasked with making the change confirmed as much when he announced the change.

"I think we gave coach [Pelini] ample resources and ample support," Eichorst said, via Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com. "We didn't meet expectations, both on and off the field."

Riley is, in many ways, the opposite personality of the man they just let go. Riley is loved and respected by all, as was evident in the rave reviews handed out by media members when the hiring was announced. Whether he can deliver similar results—or better yet, something more—remains a great unknown.

Heard #Nebraska was determined to hire a "really good guy who ppl in the community would like" well, Mike Riley is that. Otherwise, stunning

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 4, 2014

It is unfair to compare Riley’s and Pelini’s records over the past four years side by side, not when you take into account the vast differences in philosophy and overall resources at the two schools. You have a much better chance of succeeding in Lincoln for a variety of reasons, and leaning on records alone is unfair to the parties involved.

But Riley’s recent underwhelming seasons shouldn’t go unrecognized, either. Although there’s no doubting his ability to lead a program and develop talent, Riley has finished with a record below .500 in three out of the past five seasons.

His record against quality opponents—an enormous catalyst for Pelini’s undoing—also leaves plenty to be desired.

Per @brandonlvogel, Mike Riley is 4-21 against Top 10 teams, 14-41 against Top 25. #Huskers

— Erin Sorensen (@erinsorensen) December 4, 2014

It has been a struggle for Riley against premier competition, but that doesn’t mean the same trend will carry over. He will have access to means he’s never had before, at least not on this level. He’ll be given more money to assemble a staff, and he’ll be able to offer up a much more powerful brand and sales pitch on the recruiting road.

There are all the pieces in place for this plan to work brilliantly and for Riley’s record output to skyrocket back to the expected threshold.

It all makes complete sense on the surface level, and yet, it doesn’t lessen the shock of this unexpected marriage. From the delivery, to the fit, to the timing—this was a move we never saw coming.

Long live the Silly Season.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Lane Kiffin's Contagious Sideline Swagger Rubbing off on Alabama Players

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Lane Kiffin’s Alabama career could almost be summed up by three GIFs and Vines.

There was Alabama’s touchdown to Kenyan Drake against Florida, Kiffin’s first “wow” moment as an offensive coordinator:

There were his fist bumps with Alabama players after an early touchdown at Tennessee:

And then there was the Vine heard ‘round the Iron Bowl, where Kiffin throws his hands up in celebration well before Blake Sims even let go of a 39-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper:

Those three moments almost perfectly encapsulate Kiffin’s brief time in Tuscaloosa: his brilliant play-calling and scheming; his ability to relate to his players in a way few coaches can; and his brash confidence that everything he does will work.

It’s created a perfect storm on offense for Alabama this season that’s allowed it to have one of the most prolific years in school history. The Crimson Tide’s offensive weapons are getting the ball, sometimes in creative ways. There’s no question the Lane Kiffin experiment has been a success.

And it’s gotten his players’ attention. Even they’ve seen those moments.

“He brings a lot of energy,” center Ryan Kelly said. “That little thing on Vine that’s been going viral, he’s so excited. He’s a great offensive mastermind. I think that’s why he was so excited. He knew it was going to work. He’s got all the confidence in all 11 guys he has out there on offense. To play for a guy like that, it’s great. It builds momentum for the offense the entire game.”

You don’t have to go too far back to remember a time when Alabama’s offense was known for clamming up and getting too conservative at times.

Fair or not, under offensive coordinators Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier, the Crimson Tide were known for a steady rushing attack with some play action and other passes thrown in.

That perception couldn’t be more different under Kiffin.

"I've been begging the offensive coordinators around here to open it up since I've been here," Saban lamented the Monday after an offensive explosion against Florida. "Jimbo Fisher was the best offensive coordinator I've ever had that ever did what I wanted to do. And everybody wants to run the ball. Now, we've always had a very good team to run the ball. And we had a very good defense, and it was really smart to play the way we played.

“Now, we have more skill players that are good perimeter players, and I think we are doing what we need to do on offense to take advantage of that. Lane does a really, really good job of taking advantage of what players can do. I think that has benefited us so far this season.”

Setting aside the crazy notion that Saban couldn’t get somebody on his staff to do something he wanted, it’s easy to see why he could have been frustrated.

He’s had weapons like Julio Jones and Amari Cooper and other explosive skill players with capable quarterbacks to get them the ball. It was a detriment that cost Alabama at times, like in the 9-6 overtime slugfest Alabama lost to LSU.

Kiffin hasn’t succumbed to that pressure to keep things conservative. He’s opened up the offense and resisted the temptation to go into a shell when things aren’t going well.

The Auburn game was a perfect example.

He dialed up two long touchdown passes to Cooper, a player he knows nobody can cover.

And he knew it was going to work, even when everything was going against Alabama, as millions of people watching on TV and social media saw.

“Coach Kiffin goes with the game, with the flow,” wide receiver DeAndrew White said. “He has fun with us on the sideline and makes adjustments when we need to make adjustments. When he calls a play, he expects a touchdown on each play he calls.”

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How SEC Fans Should Feel About Missouri Now

Remember when Missouri was still considered an outsider in the SEC despite having the SEC logo stitched on its jerseys?

"The other school" in the latest round of conference expansion announced its presence in the SEC with authority, winning the SEC East in its second year in the league and then following it up with another division title this season.

Missouri wasn't the known commodity three years ago, but now it's known for one thing—winning.

Winning even when nobody gives it a chance.

Winning the way the Tigers want to play.

Winning in the toughest conference in America.

Last year, Missouri came out of nowhere to win the SEC East thanks to SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam and Kony Ealy getting pressure off the edge and a secondary that capitalized on mistakes. On offense, a veteran cast of quarterback James Franklin, running back Henry Josey and wide receivers L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas joined forces with superstar Dorial Green-Beckham to lead the Tigers to Atlanta.

With all of those stars gone, Missouri was bound to regress to the mean in 2014.

Until it didn't.

All Missouri has done this season is produce a defense that's second in the SEC in yards per play (4.60), post the conference's second-best turnover margin (0.75), limit opponents to just 19.7 points per game and find enough offense to get the job done.

"Our players, obviously, they know what's going on," head coach Gary Pinkel said on Sunday. "They watch TV, they hear things. Certainly, they're competitors, and they have a lot of pride in who they are. I think our players drew off of that a little bit, the underdog, maybe not getting the respect that you want to. I think that's OK a little bit."

It's not OK, though.

Pinkel has coached Missouri teams that have won 10 or more games in five of the last eight seasons across two conferences. His offense is flexible enough to boast the nation's ninth-best rushing attack—as it did in 2009—or air it out as it did last season with what looked like three NBA power forwards playing wide receiver.

His defense, coached by Broyles Award finalist Dave Steckel, finds ways to generate pressure even when superstars walk out the door.

It's a team without superstars that's coached by superstars.

"We do a thing called 'Mizzou Made' here," Pinkel said. "We think we've developed players as good as anybody in the country. We have a plan and infrastructure set in to do that, professionally, personally, academically, player development. We have our system. It's a system that I learned from Don James when I was a coach with him at the University of Washington."

It's time to recognize Missouri for what it is—an SEC East power.

While it's true that the Tigers have only one SEC win over a team that finished the season over .500 over the last two seasons, it's still the only program that has taken advantage of a "down" SEC East.

Georgia couldn't do it with Todd Gurley, a veteran linebacking corps and a small village of talented wide receivers. South Carolina couldn't do it last year with No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, the best quarterback in program history in Connor Shaw and stud running back Mike Davis. Florida couldn't do it with one of the most talented defenses in the country.

Missouri did despite not paying much attention to star value.

"I've never looked at a recruiting ranking since I've been coaching," Pinkel said.

That's absolutely coachspeak for most, but for Pinkel, it's a way of life.

Missouri is well-coached, efficient and flexible.

That's a recipe for success whether it's in a tough division or not.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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The Biggest Disappointments for Texas A&M in 2014

The Texas A&M football team had a disappointing regular season in 2014, with a 7-5 record overall and a 3-5 record in the SEC. There were multiple issues on this team that led to such a disappointing record. 

The Aggies were a very young team in 2014. That youth was a major reason why they lost five games. The Aggies should be an improved team in 2015 if they address some of the issues that plagued them this season. 

Building a football program is a fluid process. The Aggies and head coach Kevin Sumlin are three years into that process. They have enough talent in place at every position to compete in the SEC, but they need to continue to add talent at certain positions to be an elite program in the SEC. 

They also need to make some changes on the coaching staff. This is a look at some of the biggest disappointments during the 2014 season for the Texas A&M football team. 

 

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Replacing Bo Pelini with Mike Riley Is Hard for Nebraska Fans to Understand

Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst has found his guy. His name is Mike Riley.

Riley hails from Oregon State, where he has been the head coach for the last 12 years. He was also at Oregon State as the head coach briefly in 1997 and 1998 before heading to the San Diego Chargers. He returned to the Beavers in 2003.

When the news broke, the emotions were mixed. Some Huskers fans were elated while others were unsure of what to think.

What has fans the most confused is a statement Eichorst made during the press conference after Bo Pelini had been fired.

"Although we did win a bunch of games, we didn't win the games that mattered the most," Eichorst said.

That's an interesting quote to focus on, too. Pelini did struggle to win the big games for Nebraska, like both Michigan State and Wisconsin this past season. However, Riley's record at Oregon State doesn't exactly look significantly better.

As Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel noted (via Phil Steele), Riley is 4-21 against teams ranked in the Top 10 and 14-41 against teams ranked in the Top 25. As for Pelini? He was 9-17 against ranked opponents during his time at Nebraska (he was 9-14 to start the season, per The Wall Street Journal).

Looking solely at that, fans are scratching their heads. However, it's not the whole story, as Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel noted:

And that is something worth considering. Riley, a defensive back for the University of Alabama in the early 1970s, was well-respected by fans and media. His demeanor, as Omaha's 1620 The Zone's Damon Benning noted, is something to pay attention to:

Additionally, Riley brings a lot to the table as far as recruiting is concerned, as noted by Barton Simmons of 247Sports.

"At Oregon State, Riley and his staff have developed a great reputation as evaluators and developers of talent," wrote Simmons. "Brandin Cooks was heading to UCLA, with a possible future as a defensive back, until Oregon State landed him as a future first-round draft pick at wide receiver."

The ability to recognize talent and recruit it will be incredibly important. It also doesn't hurt that he recruits well in the state of Texas, as ESPN.com's Max Olson pointed out:

Hiring Riley is likely hard for fans to wrap their heads around just yet. Eichorst did an impeccable job of keeping the news under wraps, which made the news even more surprising. Plus, Riley was 93-80 at Oregon State, which has to have some fans nervous.

However, wins and losses truly are not the whole story. Despite what Eichorst originally said after Pelini was fired, Riley possesses the qualities that the Huskers have been looking for. In a statement, per Huskers.com, Eichorst explained:

There was one coach who fit all the characteristics that I was seeking to lead our tradition rich football program.  Mike Riley has a proven record of success, a sound approach to football and teaching, an understanding of the educational mission of our university and the integrity and values that we cherish at Nebraska.  I have no doubt that Mike will assemble a tremendous staff and lead our student-athletes to win Big Ten titles and compete for national championships in the years ahead.

The standard has been set, and that's to win championships. Only time will tell if Riley can bring those to Nebraska.

In the meantime, it's okay to feel a bit conflicted.

 

Quotes from athletic director Shawn Eichorst obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Barrett Sallee: Mike Riley Hire 'Doesn't Make Any Sense' for Nebraska

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have filled their vacant coaching position by hiring former Oregon State Beavers head coach Mike Riley, per ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman. Riley spent 14 seasons at Oregon State from 1997-1998 and again from 2003-2014. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee was joined by Stephen Nelson to discuss the Cornhuskers' hiring. 

Was this the right move by Nebraska?

Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Coaches Most Likely to Be with a New Team Next Season

The music has started up, and the gears are turning. The annual college football coaching carousel is under way, basically turning the next few months into a near-constant stream of potential changes in leadership at the top of various programs.

It's an exciting time for schools landing a new coach, while for those in jeopardy of losing theirs it's a time of trepidation. Seemingly every coach is in play when the carousel gets going, as last year 15 of the 20 openings in FBS were filled by existing head coaches at other college programs.

Two major such moves happened on Thursday, with Florida hiring Colorado State's Jim McElwain and Oregon State's Mike Riley moving to Nebraska.

Who are the other coaches most likely to make a move to another school this winter? Here's our list of the ones with the best chance to be wearing a new color palette when the 2015 season starts.

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Mike Riley to Nebraska: Latest Contract Details, Analysis and Reaction

Another high-profile coaching gig in college football has been filled, as Nebraska has hired former Oregon State coach Mike Riley.

The school announced the hire on its Twitter account:

Shortly after Florida filled its vacancy by hiring Jim McElwain, per Chris Low of ESPN.com, Nebraska named its replacement for Bo Pelini.

Riley coached Oregon State for 14 seasons, leading them to eight bowl games (they were 6-2 in those contests). He won 93 games in total in that time.

"It is truly an honor to join the University of Nebraska family," Riley said, per KETV.com. "Though we love Corvallis and Oregon State, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach at one of the nation’s most storied football programs and I can’t wait to get started."

Former Nebraska standout Prince Amukamara tweeted a welcome to the new coach:

This hire is going to surprise some people, no doubt. Pelini went 67-27 and won at least nine games each season dating back to 2008, but he was never able to return Nebraska to national prominence.

Bryan Fischer of NFL.com reports that Riley may not have been the Huskers' top choice:

While Riley brings plenty of experience in the college game and in general—he also coached the NFL's San Diego Chargers for three seasons—he isn't the big splash many Nebraska fans may have been expecting. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports was certainly surprised, though he understood what the school sees in Riley:

Riley may not be flashy, but he's proven himself capable of building down-on-their-luck programs into competitive ones. He's got the coaching chops to succeed, and his offense should breathe life into the Huskers' program.

It's a new era for Nebraska's football program, and now Riley will have the unique challenge of accomplishing what Pelini could not—restoring Nebraska as one of the preeminent powers in college football. 

 

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