03.Sep.2011 Why Mike Riley should Retire
I do not want to see Mike Riley fired. I don't think Decarolis wants to fire Riley, and I don't think most fans want to see Riley fired.
He has done a good job in exhuming the program, and he is an honorable guy who we all admire as a human being.
That makes for an awkward situation for everyone involved. On one hand, Riley is a person fans love, but on the other hand, even the most ardent supporters are realizing his coaching limitations. Today's loss hauled an elephant into the room. A big mamma who isn't leaving anytime soon. This problem is going to get worse as the season progresses. I don't want to see a good person getting hated on or disrespected.
It's why Riley should spare everyone the awkwardness by jumping ahead of the inevitable and retiring. Riley claims to love OSU. If that is true, he should realize he's taken OSU as far as he can, and it's time to pass the baton.
There are fans who will say this is an overreaction to a bad loss. But, I see this conclusion as the result of a bigger trend. I don't need to rehash all the bad losses, the lack of passion, etc. We all know the story.
Let's relate this to something people understand more than coaching: money. There are two terms in the stock market called "support" and "resistance". Resistance refers to the point where a stock lacks buyers. For example, say Apple is trading at $399 a share, but the psychological barrier of $400 scares off investors. This might be a point of resistance. Sometimes resistance is at a more random price with no clear cause other than investors agreeing, "This is the most we are willing to pay." Support, on the other hand, is the opposite of resistance. Support refers to the point where buyers step in and say, "This is cheap, the stock should not go lower than this price." Support and resistance tell a trader if he is buying too high or selling too low.
Well, this concept can be related to Mike Riley. Riley's support level is 5 wins per season, and his resistance is 9 wins. Expecting Riley to break out of that range and go to a BCS/Rose Bowl would be like a trader expecting Phillip Morris to break out of the 60 range and trade at Apple-esque valuations. That is just not going to happen without several major growth catalysts.
See where this is going? We know what Riley is, and there is no growth. So, why hold? The growth story is over. Keeping with the stock analogy, we're in the dividend years. Those are okay times for equities since an investor can still beat inflation, but when it comes to modern college football, slow growth equals lost jobs. In fact, I'd argue Riley is actually regressing, and thus has no value other than as a respectable face for a tier two franchise.
What I am describing is everyone's career arc. Ricky Henderson was once the fastest man. Babe Ruth was once the strongest. Bill Gates was once the most innovative. You and I are the working class, but one day our skills will be dated, too.
Time is cruel, even to good people.
Mike should realize he's hovering near his support level and without a catalyst that usually legs down. Even further, that even his resistance level is no longer good enough. There's a young generation that, due to Riley's (moderate) success, expects more. There is an irony in success. Think about it: take Led Zeppelin's worst record. It's still better than 99% of music. But harsh criticisms via high expectations make them victims of their own success. Do well and people will expect better (or at least equally well).
I am not overreacting. I am not saying Riley needs to retire today. But if this season continues down its current path, Riley needs to step aside in order to spare the fans and AD awkwardness while also preserving his dignity–the trait for which he's most known.