22.Mar.2010 "In Riley We Trust"

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I’ve been meaning to dispel the notion in Beaverland that Mike Riley is a great talent evaluator for some time. In this edition, I’ll look at all the 1, 2, 3, and 4-star busts Riley has evaluated and signed dating back to the 2006 and 2007 classes. Any later (i.e. 2008) and the player has not had adequate time to develop. I define a “bust” as a player who (a) is more than two years into his Beaver career who has not yet contributed nor shows signs of contributing in the near future or (b) has played but at a sub-par level. Players who left for missions and non-qualifiers are left off the list and not included in final percentages.

2006

****

None.

***

Tom Hansen

Ryan Pohl

**

Keo Camat

Kaulin Krebs

Timi Oshinowo

Suaesi Tuimaunei

Michael Hunt

Keith Robertson

* and fewer

Chris Johnson

Totals:

Failure Rate: 9/26 or 35%

Success Rate: 17/26 or 65%

Comments: As noted above, LDS players like the Unga brothers, Mau Nomani, and Geoff Garner were left off the list completely and not included in the 26 (i.e. class total would have been in the 30s with all these players).

Final grade: 63% is a “D” on any exam.

2007

****

David Ross

***

Ryan McCants

Will Darkins

Latu Moala

Ahmed Mokhtar

Sioeli Nau

Keith Pankey

Kevin Frahm

**

Kevin Pankey

Carl Sommer

Anthony Watkins

Kyle Bell

Michael Cole

Jesse Fifita

Danzel Issac

Leaualofa Liilii

Tonu Tuimalealiifano

Rory Ross

Colby Prince

Totals:

Failure Rate: 19/29 or 66%

Success Rate: 10/29 or 34%

Comments: Non-qualifiers such as Jon Ione, Jake Gelakoska, Reggie Dunn etc were left off the list. I tried to do this with the 2006 list as well, but frankly I can’t remember the plight of every player  (e.g. Danzel Issac), so if I missed one let me know and I’ll adjust the percentage as necessary.

Final Grade: 34% is a low F.

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What is interesting to note is that over the two year period examined Riley Failed (51%) more often than he succeeded (49%). That percentage essentially equates to a coin toss–a low, failing grade by all standards. As you can see, many of the “turned stones” have nothing underneath them. Please, let’s dispel this myth that Riley is a better talent evaluator than myself, yourself, the scouting sites, or other head coaches. All of our opinions, analysis, and judgments of these athletes have just as much merit as those of a head coach who is wrong half the time. Let’s drop the slogan “in Riley we trust” from the Beaver lexicon.

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  • innate says:
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    Can you compare this to other schools and get back to us?

    • angrybeaver says:
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      Other schools fans don’t say things like “In Sark we trust” and “Tedford is a great talent evaluator”

      Also, I don’t follow other schools recruits nor do I want to.

  • innate says:
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    Wasn’t Keith Pankey “honorable mention all-Pacific-10 Conference” last season?

    • angrybeaver says:
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      Why did you thumb up both your posts?

      Also, yeah, he was, but who cares since he isn’t very good. Name me five plays Pankey made in the backfield, or some game changing turnovers, or tackles that weren’t 10 yards downfield.

      • BeavGirl says:
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        thumb thumb thumb

      • In Me We Should Trust says:
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        Joe Mauer is horrible at the plate. Just horrible. His batting average was only .365 last year, and for his career it’s a woeful .327… an F on any exam.

        People say he’s great but they’re stupid. Obviously he’s terrible. I don’t know how his numbers compare to any other baseball players because I don’t know anything about baseball and don’t follow it, nor do I want to.

        I’m not knocking Mauer. He’s ok. I just get so sick of the people who think he’s good. Their time would be much better spent telling me how great I am… because I’m so very, very sad.

        If there’s any evidence that’s contrary to my opinion, it’s irrelevant. The only evidence that’s worth a shit is that which I make up and that which supports my contentions.

        • angrybeaver says:
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          Why would you compare a mlb-future-hall-of-fame-catcher to a should-be-backup-college- linebacker?

          This is how you go about proving whatever point it is you’re trying to make, by drafting incongruent drivel?

          • In Me We Should Trust says:
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            Why didn’t you stick with your original response? Insufficient hyphenation?

            I didn’t compare a future hall of fame baseball player to a should-be backup linebacker. I compared a future hall of fame baseball player to no one at all. The congruence is keen, and this blog is nothing but drivel, so any drivel I might choose to add is apropos.

            Just as you did, I compared Mauer’s success rate to nothing at all save an arbitrary application of a grading scale most traditionally used in secondary school.

            Though, unlike you, I used a purely objective measure to determine success… hitting percentage. You applied a standard of your own making, one that you presumably consider superior to the combined opinions of the head coaches in the Pac-10.

          • angrybeaver says:
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            It was clearly in reference to Pankey, whom for no other reason than he wears Beaver gear, you want to do in the butt.

            This is your challenge: find me 10 Keith Pankey plays (preferably on video, but I’ll accept verifiable anecdotes) where he was (a) disrupting a play in the backfield, (b) knocking down a pass in coverage, (c) earning a sack, or (d) creating a fumble/turnover.

            You won’t be able to, but go try, and then get back to me on the greatness that is Keith Pankey making gang-tackles ten yards downfield.

          • In Me We Should Trust says:
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            What was clearly in reference to Pankey? I only referenced him in passing because you stated “he isn’t very good”, whereas head coaches in the Pac-10 regard him as at least above average, thereby suggesting that you consider yourself a more apt judge of football talent.

            The gist of my argument was abundantly clear… that you “graded” Riley’s performance as a recruiter/developer in a vacuum, declaring him a failure because he didn’t succeed (by your standard) with at least 70% of his recruits.

            It’s a meaningless score, even if we were to assume your ability to ascertain the value of any of the ’06 or ’07 recruits was accurate. You’ve established no benchmark by which we can establish the norm for “busts” among his head coaching peers. Are all other coaches failures by this measure? Are the others all successes? Is Riley the worst? Is he the best? The only meaningful score in this exercise is a relative one.

            For example, when you scored a 100 on your IQ test… that didn’t mean you aced it.

            By the way, you wrote for the ’06 class:
            ————-
            Failure Rate: 9/26 or 35%
            Success Rate: 18/26 or 65%
            Comments: As noted above, LDS players like the Unga brothers, Mau Nomani, and Geoff Garner were left off the list completely and not included in the 26 (i.e. class total would have been in the 30s with all these players).
            Final grade: 63% is a “D” on any exam.
            ————-

            Apparently you know all too well what it means to fail on an exam… especially math exams. 18 out of 26 is 69%, not 65%. If he failed on 9 and succeeded on 18, there had to have been 27 athletes in the class… yet you repeatedly state it’s 26. In addition, you give him a second percentage… 63%, which is also wrong… in the “Final Grade”.

          • angrybeaver says:
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            It’s meaningless if I’m comparing him against other head coaches, but since I’m not doing that, and simply showing that he fails a lot, it has the exact meaning I intended.

            If I say, “You’re wrong a lot, In Me We Should Trust” that doesn’t mean I should compare you to every other human for the statement to have validity. I’d just have to show you were wrong enough times that people could see the pattern.

            Get a life and a clue already.

          • In Me We Should Trust says:
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            Ah, but that’s not what you said. I quote:

            “I’ve been meaning to dispel the notion in Beaverland that Mike Riley is a great talent evaluator for some time.”

            “Please, let’s dispel this myth that Riley is a better talent evaluator than myself, yourself, the scouting sites, or other head coaches. All of our opinions, analysis, and judgments of these athletes have just as much merit as those of a head coach who is wrong half the time.”

            Now you claim your intent was merely to say that he’s sometimes wrong? Liar. Pants on fire.

            In your summation, you compare him to EVERYBODY based upon a “success” rate in which you didn’t compare him to anybody.

          • angrybeaver says:
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            Does that mean I have to compare him to your opinions, talent sites, etc too?

            The comment is clearly meant to be sweeping hyperbole and not literal. How are you not picking up on the context, tone, or intent of that sentence? Even so, I’m sure there are plenty of coaches with better track records. I know Pete Carroll has one without doing any research. So, yeah.

            But fair enough. It’s not that hard to compare him to other coaches, and it gives me another topic to write about–you just better cross your fingers he comes out on top. Problem with doing that kind of analysis is I don’t follow other programs enough to know who the missions or academic casualties are.

      • katoosh says:
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        fans will be fans! HAHA

  • BeavGirl says:
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    hey angry, I like how this post puts the riley worship into perspective. I have thought for a while that the whole “in riley we trust” slogan is way over the top. He’s a good coach but it does everyone a disservice pretending he is better than he is.

  • JackBeav says:
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    I think it speaks more to the recruiting ability than it does the ability to evaluate. I’m presuming that other kids were recruited in these classes but chose to go elsewhere.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      I see what you’re saying, but this is more an indictment of our annoying fan base who bury their head in the sand while chanting, “in Riley we trust.”

      a. The recruits he lands fail more than not.
      b. He can’t land the recruits he wants (as you noted).

      That he has a couple great line coaches is probably saving the guy his job.

      I like Riley, but he is what he is, and I’m often frustrated with his lack of a killer instinct, competitive fire, and inability to win meaningful/prime-time games. But the number one reason I made this post is because a lot of people come to my blog saying, “Angry, what do you know!? The coach knows a lot more than you!”…and of course “In Riley I trust!”

      It needs to be pointed out that the guy is wrong more often than he isn’t.

      • TTRZ says:
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        I would agree with the statement that the coach, at times, knows more than you or I – assuming he watches more tape than is on the web and goes to meet the family and gets a feel if the recruit is going to Blount-punch someone or not. However, that doesn’t mean he’s a better talent evaluator than you or I, just that he has more resources, as he should since he gets paid a lot more than you or I to do it.

        I think Riley has some well publicized “wins” that get reported out – one or no stars becoming productive starters – which people assume mean that he’s a great talent evaluator, but I think it’s more just luck. It’s widely reported that he and his scouts didn’t know who Jaquizz even was and only knew about James based on a recomendation when James wasn’t recruited too hard. So he lucked into both of them as a talent evaluator. He’s had other guys that he chased hard come to school here and become stars – like Steven Jackson – but other coaches were chasing him too, so he didn’t “unearth” him or see something in him that others didn’t. That being said, he did (or his staff) convince him to come to OSU which he does deserve credit for.

        Also, “In Riley we trust” is a pretty lame saying, I’ll agree. Smacks of “he’s the reason the Beavers no longer suck so I’ll do whatever he says, yee haw!” Small minded, limited horizon thinking for sure.

        • BeavGirl says:
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          Well said. TTRZ should post more

        • angrybeaver says:
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          I agree with all of this. I’ve said the same things in the past (probably on the site with fat, old losers) and got booed off the internet.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I understand the frustration about the willfully blind. But there are two aspects that you forget.

      One is that half the team is going to be under-productive at any one time in the program. There is an understanding within the staff that these guys are not of the highest talent level. And they need more time to develop. Some of them have come into the system in a position where there is depth. Others are just in the wrong position for their skill sets. Because of the second reason, they may only break into the two-deeps late in their careers.

      The second reason is that the recruiting has become a little more focused over the last couple years. The two classes listed just don’t have the same talent as the better players within those classes or the better talent within subsequent classes. Some of them just don’t have the talent to beat out the second-tier guys in the subsequent classes.

      That’s not to say some of the new guys won’t be duds. It’s just to say that the program is maturing. I would be much less happy if these guys were actually producing with the level of talent they possess.

      But that doesn’t excuse the fan base its stupidity. The same people who tell us to trust the staff tell us that players like Akuna will not be productive early in their careers.

      Why? How many frosh played last year?

      The same people who would have me believe that the staff is getting better at evaluating and recruiting talent want me to believe that all the talent is great. But they also want me to believe that all the talent is equally not great once they make the team.

      I have eyes, and those eyes have watched football for a couple years now. Those eyes tell me some players are better than others… on other teams as well as our own.

      I’ve been arguing with brain-dead hoops fans about the very same subject. The UW fans tell me that there’s no way a bunch of top-tier frosh recruits can come in and replace four seniors so that we can expect the Beavs to play at a higher level. In the same breath, they tell me that their Huskies will rule the league next year because they’re only losing one senior.

      Well they were lost this year without the one guy they lost last year (Brockman). But they pulled it together because the one senior they have this year (Pondexter) willed them to do so. They lose the same production in one player that the Beavs lose in four.

      More importantly, they lose the leadership and determination to win that makes them successful now. We lose the opposite in the collective mentality leaving our roster.

  • ean says:
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    I don’t think the 60 is a D, 70 a C, 80 a B… system is applicable here. I don’t think any coach in the nation would get an A if that is the case. With 85 scholarships and 11 guys on the field only so many can possibly be impact players. I do agree that Riley is not God but he is great at finding diamonds in the rough. I appreciate your critical outlook Angry but I feel at times you are critical merely for the sake of being critical.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I agree that a bell curve would be more appropriate, but I think he’s not being critical for its own sake. He’s being critical in response to his critics.

      Even on a bell curve, the success of the team only puts us at a B+ in a good year. When we make the Rose bowl–or a BCS bowl–we get an A.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      “85 scholarships and 11 guys on the field only so many can possibly be impact players.”

      Well you have the scholarship number right but there aren’t 11 guys on the field. You have 22 + special teams, so you could have in the high 30s or even into the 50s based on different offensive/defensive packages and schemes. Also, then you have those players backups, and if they showed any promise I left them off the list. A guy like Aaron Nichols is not a bust, because he’s showed me something, even though he’s been buried most of his career. On the flipside, Kevin Frahm is a bust, even though he’s played since freshman year. Etc.

  • rodgersbrosftw says:
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    I agree that this information is basically useless unless we have something to compare it to. I can’t see if he is better, the same, or worse than average.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      I disagree with this post.

      The idea isn’t to compare Riley to the rest of the NCAA; it’s to show moronic fans who think Riley is Simon Cowell how frequently he misses. Half is roster is unusable. I don’t care if that’s above normal or below for the sake of this point.

      Also, when fans chant “in Riley I trust!” they aren’t comparing his (recruiting) wins to other coaches, so why should I in saying “in Riley I don’t trust”?

      Rethink this.

  • angrybeaver says:
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    JackBeav,

    ” In Me We Should Trust” is the “jackbeav” imposter who also went under the moniker “humongous organ”

    Just an fyi–I know you love to diatribe the internet psychos.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I read above. To tell you the truth, she bores me. She clearly lacks the skills to reason or she would know that her Joe Mauer case was a simple case of appealing to absurdity… reductio ad absurdum. She even uses the fallacy of the general rule to make the point.

      Double whammy!

      To top it all off, she does all this on a thread series about Pankey and doesn’t even realize it. The Pankey question, btw, is an appeal to authority… basically what the post is trying to dispel.

      So I will ask what that authority (Pac 10 coaches) knows so well that they lose their jobs at a higher rate than the public at large. Riley will be the dean of Pac 10 coaches when Tedford finally gets canned for under-performing. I’m willing to give Riley a break because he does well with substandard talent. But to continue making apologies for performance by saying that’s all we can bring in is also absurd. I see slightly incremental increases in talent from class to class, so I remain patient. That patience is somewhat tenuous, because the pace is such that one bad class sets us back two years.

      There was nobody in the latest class who was under the radar. Every coach had seen all of these players. And most Pac 10 coaches would love to have some of the talent we got this year. Talent isn’t the issue. The issue is academic risk. There were other players who were fully qualified with comparable talent, but we couldn’t win those recruiting battles for whatever reason.

      If Riley can take these kids, turn them into good students and good men as well as the great players they could be… then more power to him.

      I will say that Riley is a better talent evaluator than many other coaches simply because he finally offered Terron Ward. I have no clue as to why nobody ever offered him… none. That one will remain a mystery, and it will pay off big time in not only Ward’s future presence. It will also pay off in recruiting circles. Bob Ladouceur is a good contact to have in California high school football if you’re a college coach looking to make strides in recruiting.

      Am I rambling? That’s how boring her specious argument is.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      “That patience is somewhat tenuous, because the pace is such that one bad class sets us back two years.”

      Great point, and one that’s made me nervous for a while.

      Also, Mana Tuivailala was one player not all coaches knew about–he intrigued me before going the way of the dodo.

      Ward…I’m still not sold on that guy. I heard a few “character” rumblings, so then I looked at his social networking site and it was obnoxious. I think I brought this up before and people said, “this is how kids act” etc, which is true, but it gave me some insight into why he might have no offers. I think size was an issue for him, too. Most coaches don’t have to go for the short back because they can land a guy 5’10 or more who has the same speed/ability. Cal was looking at him, but they already landed a RB with more potential. The one good thing is the pipeline–that is worth the scholarship. And I think he can be a good player (3rd down back, change of pace, etc)…I just don’t think he’ll be Quiz II or Maurice Jones Drew.

      • JackBeav says:
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        I don’t want to saddle any kid with any kind of ‘the next’ moniker. So I can’t honestly say who he will be. His older brother TJ showed that a great work ethic could enhance the talent he already had, and he showed that he could succeed despite being smaller than Terron when coming out of HS. I like his position because he’ll come in with a chip on his shoulder.

  • Nuke4200 says:
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    “In Riley we trust” more than recruiting services.
    “In Riley we trust” more than other coaches.

    People who invoke the axiom “in Riley we trust” typically provide association and context. What you wrote has neither is one of the most idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent post were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone who reads this is now dumber. I award you no points (or “final grade”…), and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      “In Riley we trust” more than recruiting services.
      “In Riley we trust” more than other coaches.

      Well, the recruiting service one is easy, since we have the stars listed above and as you can see most misses were 2 stars. Recruiting services get it right more often. This is my point…you mutter this dumb creed and it’s not backed up.

      You can insult the messenger all you want. I encourage it. It’s not going to make fallacy that you wish to be true…come true.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      And the fact that you read this blog is going to stick with you. Every time you see the phrase “in Riley i/we trust” the handful of remaining cells in the back of your brain will remember this day and question it. And that is a good thing from my perspective, and yours, so you’re welcome. All this, and it’s free of charge.

    • Diggs says:
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      Nuke, while I will award you one point for your Billy Madison spin-off… I will disagree. But, nice try.

  • angrybeaver says:
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    The one guy on this list who might not belong is Ryan Pohl–I’m surprised nobody caught this. He has a lot of upside. I added him because the coaches seemed to have missed the boat and wasted his talent.

    • JackBeav says:
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      I’m not sure about Watkins or Prince. But they are players in positions with good, deep talent on top of the depth chart, and they were grey shirts.

      Also Darkins should get the same pass Miller gets for position change in a time of necessity. He showed good work in some games, and he should be much improved next year.

  • G Joubert says:
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    I’m not going to call it an idiotic post, but to me the problem you are describing with Riley is not an inability to judge talent. The problem going on in that department is actually something else, something you have discussed on other occasions: Riley’s woeful inability to recruit five and even four star recruits. Something is very wrong there.

    My biggest pet peeve with Riley is the way his teams always start so slowly season in and season out.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      “the problem you are describing with Riley is not an inability to judge talent.”

      I think bad evaluation is part of it, though. We’ll see when I do a comparison to find out what a good “batting average” is for striking out in an evaluation. My gut says 51% failure is high. I’d think 60% success/40% failure would be normal. But we’ll see.

      Also, by improperly judging talent and going for these two-stars who are hiding under rocks, Riley is entering a vicious cycle and increasing his odds of failure. It’s just like playing a mega millions vs pick 3 lotto. Rivals beat him out in 2006 and 2007 evaluations. Is that a surprise? Not to me. Leaualofa Liilii a Pac-10 WR, really??

      It boggles my mind that Mike Riley thinks Keith Pankey is a viable Pac-10 linebacker at “Linebacker U west coast”…that’s another moniker that will need to be ditched shortly if Pankey is our standard.

      So yes, your point and our belief that he can’t land 4-5 star guys definitely adds to his failure rate. And for those who are skeptical, just do an unscientific thought experiment to see if that reasoning is correct: does USC have 50% of their roster as complete busts? Without doing any math you know the answer. No.

      But now we’re getting off topic. My purpose with this post was to point out to fans what kind of odds/success they are blindly trusting in, and that is all. What people are getting angry about is that there are no points of comparison or benchmarks. To that I have these suggestions: do your own comparison, wait for me to write a follow up, or conduct a thought experiment (e.g. USC example I gave, but you can do this with any top-line program) to get an idea if a 49% success rate is good. But don’t misconstrue the point: this blog entry is first and foremost about the fan and their orange-colored notions, not the coach.

      • BeavGirl says:
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        “My purpose with this post was to point out to fans what kind of odds/success they are blindly trusting in, and that is all.”

        yes, people are getting a little wrapped up in the riley issue when really its more of a beaver fan issue. The multitude of fans placing riley on a pedestal and throwing around that slogan is the real problem. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having faith in a coach. But come on, that slogan is soo cheesy.

      • Diggs says:
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        It does give me the “blue box blues” as well Beavgirl… and I agree with you Angry on blind faith. There is a lot of validity here! BUT, I still don’t think the grading scale is an accurate depiction. Without thinking, yes, i’m sure if this was compared to USC on the same ideology you used we’d be lower… but I don’t believe 50% solid F low by any stretch. By all means, i’d love to see how Riley would stack up. The data is interesting, but I don’t feel it is much more beyond field notes by not having something to compare it to.

        Anywho. Since I feel your purpose (fan blind faith) was the intention, I’ll stop. I agree!

      • angrybeaver says:
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        I concede that it’s not the entire story.

        It’s basically like saying a guy hit .270 (in baseball). Is that good? Bad?

        On it’s own merit it seems bad (failing 73% of the time), but compared to the average Joe on the street it is excellent, compared to an average ballplayer it is average, and compared against a great ballplayer it’s well below.

        This is sort of what I did to Riley. It’s not entirely fair or a complete picture, but again, I never claimed to be after Riley with this post. I’m after the fan who doesn’t have the sense to think twice or have a gut inkling about these curious & questionable percentages. I think you guys should concede that there is a comparison to be made here, though. Sure, I don’t list every roster or coach, but I do give the star ratings of each player, so at the very least we can see how Riley does versus professional talent evaluators, and it is not good.

        Also, isn’t it interesting that one not need to backup or justify the “in Riley we trust!” axiom, but the same can’t be said for “in Riley I do not trust (completely)”? I think so. It’s much like a burden of proof in court. The dissenter, or lone wolf, always seems to burn more energy than the pack.

        • mckalk mckalk says:
          VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

          The “legacy” of Beaver football from 1971 to 1998 seems to have given Riley a nice pass for trends/concerns that would be scrutinized closer in another program.

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