Friday, December 5, 2014

The mythic sexy hire

So Nebraska hires  Mike Riley, a guy who somehow won 93 games in Corvallis, Ore., and a significant part of the Nebraska fan base apparently is cheesed off that, well, the Cornhuskers couldn't do better than a guy who won 93 games in Corvallis, Ore.

I say this: A guy who can do that can win a whole lot of games at a high-class joint like Nebraska. So chill.

And, while you're at it, dig a shallow grave and lay to rest the notion that there is a Sexy Hire out there who will fix everything and return the program to the days of yore, when everyone wore leather helmets and beat State like a bass drum every year. Because the Sexy Hire is largely a myth.

Oh, not in the sense that there aren't guys out there with big names that stand out in neon. In the sense that the Sexy Hire is no more likely to succeed than the un-Sexy Hire.

And here's the irony: No one should know this better than the Nebraska fan base.

The most revered coach in the program's history, after all, was pretty much the anti-Sexy Hire. Tom Osborne did not come riding into Lincoln trailing comparisons to Vince Lombardi or Don Shula. He was Nebraska coach Bob Devaney's offensive coordinator, who, the university decided, had earned his shot after a decade of faithful service. It doesn't get much less sexy than that.

But Osborne fit the university and its culture like a glove, and of course we all know what he went on to do in Lincoln. It was a lot like what happened in Columbus when Ohio State plucked Jim Tressel, a lifelong Ohio boy who'd made his bones in Division I-AA at Youngstown State. Nothing particularly sexy about that, except that Tressel knew football and, more to the point, knew Ohio State and what it demanded of its football program.

(You want to freak out Michigan and Ohio State fans at the same time? Throw Tressel's name into the mix for the Michigan job. It's not as inconceivable as you think. Bo Schembechler was every bit the lifelong Ohio boy Tressel was when Michigan called him to Ann Arbor from Miami of Ohio. That didn't work out too badly).

Anyway ... right now Mike Riley might seem like he came out of left field (or from Mars, rumored to be just down the street from Corvallis). And the expectations are obviously ridiculous at a place that fires a guy who won more games in his first seven years than any coach in school history. But if Riley takes Nebraska to a BCS bowl or wins the Big Ten next year, everyone's going to forget all that.

Nothing's sexier than a guy who can bring in the big bowl money. Truth.

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