Commanders coach Mike Riley proud of Dennis Erickson’s College Football Hall of Fame selection

Commanders coach Mike Riley proud of Dennis Erickson’s College Football Hall of Fame selection

By Cole Thompson, San Antonio Commanders Team Reporter

SAN ANTONIO — When Mike Riley first began coaching for the Oregon State Beavers, he thought he’d remain with the program until his career came to an end. It was home for the Corvalis, Ore., native and he was comfortable working from his home office. But when the San Diego Chargers called to offer him their head coaching position, it was too good for Riley to pass up.

As Riley said goodbye to the Beavers program, he knew his team would be in good hands as Dennis Erickson from the Seattle Seahawks would be taking over. Twenty years later, Riley couldn’t be happier for Erickson’s success with the Beavers.

“There’s no doubt he took the program to a newer level and greater heights,” Riley said. “That trip to the Fiesta Bowl was very possibly the greatest year in Oregon State football history.”

Erickson was named to the College Football Hall of Fame Monday morning as one of 13 inductees in the 2019 class. Now coaching the Salt Lake Stallions of The Alliance, the long time Miami (FL) coach has seen his success at near every program he’s taken over, transforming the culture from mediocrity into near instant growth.

A two-time National Champion with the Hurricanes (1989, 1991), Erickson began his coaching career in 1969 at Montana State as a graduate assistant. From there, the Everett, Wash. native would go on to become the head coach at Idaho (1982-85, 2006), Wyoming (1986), Washington State (1987-88), Oregon State (1999-02) and Arizona State (2007-11) at the collegiate level.

Riley, who also grew up in the northwest, has respect for the success Erickson has brought to every program over the course of his 50 year career.

“I think that is really well deserved” Riley said. “He had such a tremendous career in college football. It’s funny, our paths never crossed so many different times, whether he came in after I left or I came in after he left. We were tied together in a lot of ways.”      

Riley returned to Oregon State following Erickson’s departure for the San Francisco 49ers (2003-04). He would later become the Beavers all-time winningest coach over the course of the next 12 seasons, going 90-83 and picking up six bowl victories.

Erickson now joins Mike Singletary (Memphis Express), Steve Spurrier (Orlando Apollos) and Troy Polamalu (Director of Player Relations) as the fourth member of The Alliance to make the College Football Hall of Fame. While Riley can hope to one day join those ranks for his success with the Beavers, he know sees the big picture for the league’s success in the near future.

“As I was contemplating what to do with this offer, the reputation of the coaches that were being hired was very intriguing to me,” Riley said. “I think it gives the league a confirmation of what type of people are being involved in this type of football.”

In 25 years coaching at the collegiate level, Erickson would go 179-96 in career wins along with being named Pac 12 Coach of the Year three times.